A few weeks ago in a Sunday Morning, I volunteered to fundraise for my kids swim club by working at a Bunnings sausage sizzle. Yes – I was selling sausages in white bread and cans of soft drinks!! I could tell many a tale from my morning peddling sausages in bread, but one father’s comment, in particular, struck a chord and prompted this post. He was desperately trying to convince his reluctant child to have a sausage and a can of soft drink because he was a growing lad and needed some ‘meat on his bones.’ I was desperately biting my tongue.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this kind of comment. In fact, I’ve heard friends encourage their kids to eat dessert or sweets because they’re ‘too skinny’ or they need to ‘bulk up’. So I thought it’s time for me to talk about one of the fastest growing health conditions – Metabolically Obese Normal Weight (MONW) which is used to describe a person who is in an ideal weight range, but has more body fat than is healthy (often distributed around their vital organs rather than outwardly about their belly). The common name used to describe the people suffering this condition is that they are ‘skinny-fat.’
According to the Daily Mail “Australians have already spent over $280 million on weight-loss products this year, with 75% of individuals admitting it is in the hope of becoming ‘skinny’.” I think it’s a shame that ‘healthy’ isn’t the goal here because being skinny, doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is any healthier than if they were obese.
You can appear skinny but be metabolically obese
This article explains the skinny-fat concept well. “We know that 68 percent of the American population is overweight and that most have diabesity (being somewhere on the continuum of pre-diabetes to Type 2 diabetes). The shocking news from a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is that nearly 1 in 4 skinny people have pre-diabetes and are “metabolically obese” (which means the fat is stored around your organs and this is really dangerous).
“What’s worse is that if you are a skinny fat person and get diagnosed with diabetes, you have twice the risk of death than if you are overweight when diagnosed with diabetes. Studies on teenagers found that 37 percent of the skinny kids had one or more signs of pre-diabetes such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or high cholesterol.” So almost four out of ten normal-weight kids are pre-diabetic!
Scary huh? This is a very real problem and is being seen more and more. Because someone doesn’t appear outwardly obese, they think they can get away with consuming a poor diet and often eat loads of sugar to ‘bulk-up’. It frightens me when I hear parents say that their scrawny kids or teens can ‘eat anything’ and never get fat, so they aren’t bothered by them eating a rubbish diet – fat or skinny, the long-term health implications of eating a highly processed, refined diet is disastrous.
I’ve written about sugar and why it contributes to an increased appetite and weight gain (especially around organs) here. Please, parents, I urge you, don’t let the outward appearance of your kids make you feel safe in turning a blind eye to the quality of the foods they consume. This problem is current, real and shortening the lives of this next generation.