“Overfat”: the new obesity


by Richard Tardif

It’s not how much we weigh that is the real culprit to health and longevity, but the fat roosting deep in our midsections, above the belt or below it, wrapping and worming around our organs. A whopping 76 percent of us (5.5 billion) may be storing this fat, something a recent study has termed “overfat”, a much more diabolical and deadlier risk than being “overweight” and maybe, “obese”.

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This type of fat, referred to as visceral fat, is the type that might be hiding in people not considered “overweight” even if they fit into the “normal weight” category. And men (90 percent), more than women (80 percent) and 50 percent of children studied in 30 developed countries, exercisers and athletes alike, according to the premise of the research, are “overfat”.

Determine if you are overfat

To determine if you are “overfat” means taking a measure of the waistline and comparing it to height. It means a 30-year-old man who is an average height of 5ft 10 inches, or 70 inches, should have a waist no more than 35 inches. This could replace the terms “overweight” and “obese” as governed by the traditional Body Mass Index (BMI), which misses its mark about 50 percent of the time, the research argues.

“Not everyone will realize why the BMI index of height to weight falters as an indicator,” says Helen Neves, a personal trainer with a BSc in Exercise Science from Concordia University, and also a Master Instructor at the YMCA in Montreal. “Weight on a scale is a number for weight against gravity without distinguishing true fat mass from fat free mass.”

Bodyweight on a scale doesn’t differentiate between how much muscle someone has versus how much fat they’re carrying around. It’s the fat versus lean mass that really gives you an indication of your health. Neves isn’t certain if people will realize why the term “overfat” is used versus “overweight”.

A step in the right direction

 It may be a mindful step in the right direction.

“The term is more specific, and the criteria has become a little more rounded,” says Zackery Finley, owner of Mouvnation based in Dorval, Quebec. “When the solution comes, it will not come from these tired, old boring universities and experts but rather from maverick companies like BLOCK Workout, Strongfirst or even CrossFit.”

People who exercise regularly can increase the lean body mass and decrease their overall fat level. With the proper combination of diet and exercise, consistency and mindful eating, both excess fat and overall weight can be reduced.

“The study doesn’t state how they are measuring body fat levels,” says Kingston, Ontario’s Coach Taylor Simon, who specializes in program design and periodization for athletes and sports teams. “If accurate, it’s definitely far better and more predicative of health issues than the BMI scale.”


Richard Tardif is a personal fitness trainer, life coach and health journalist who has been writing about health and wellness for over 20 years. As someone who has struggled with his own weight issues, Richard’s mission is to shed light on the misinformation propagated by the fitness industry, and empower people to take back responsibility for their health. He is also finalizing his debut book, Stop the Denial: A Case for Embracing the Truth about Fitness
, published by Smiling Eye Press. Please visit his website www.richardtardif.com
or email Richard at em>richard@richardtardif.com
or facebook.com/richard.tardif