Body Fat Percentage, Overweightness, and Obesity
The scientific term of body fat is “adipose tissue”. Adipose tissue serves many important functions. Its primary purpose is to store lipids, from which the body creates energy. Also, it excretes a number of important hormones and provides some protection and insulation to the body.
Body fat consists of essential body fat and stored body fat. Essential body fat is the base fat level in most parts of the body. It is vital for maintaining life and reproductive functions. The amount of essential fat varies between men and women, and it is typically between 2-5% in males and between 10-13% in females. While the ideal body fat (total of essential and stored body fat) range for males is typically defined as 8-19%, the ideal range for females is defined as 21-33%. In medical and academic studies, different definitions can be made on the basis of age, gender, and ethnicity. Also, the measurement methods and the devices may provide different definitions for the body fat percentage. Therefore, the evaluation of the fat measurement, taken by any method or device, by a specialist or dietician is very important. Having excess body fat can have several harmful effects on the person’s health, on the other hand, inadequate body fat may cause negative health effects on its own.
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Stored body fat is the fat that accumulates in adipose tissue; subcutaneous fat (accumulates around the skin and vital organs under the dermis) or visceral fat (fat located in the abdominal cavity between the organs), and body fat typically refer to this type. While stored body fat is ideal and necessary in some cases, excessive stored fat may have serious adverse health effects.
Excess body fat causes overweightness, and eventually, it leads to obesity, unless adequate measures are taken to reduce the excess body fat. Keep in mind that being overweight does not necessarily indicate excess body fat. A person’s body weight consists of many factors such as body fat, muscle, and bone density. Therefore, very muscular people are often classified as overweight.
The rate of body fat accumulation varies from person to person, and it depends on many factors, including behavioral factors such as lack of exercise and excessive food intake, as well as genetic factors. Due to various factors, it may be more difficult for some people to reduce body fat stored in the abdomen. However, regular diet and exercise have been shown to reduce stored fat. Keep in mind that the body fat is stored differently in males and females, and this may change over time. After the age of 40 (or in some cases after menopause for females), decreased sexual hormones may cause excess body fat around the stomach in men or around the hips and buttocks of women.
Potential Complications of Excess Body Fat
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies obesity as one of the preventable causes of death worldwide. It is estimated that 36.5% of adults are obese in the USA, and 111,909 to 365,000 people die each year from obesity-related health problems.
Obesity is associated with leading causes of death worldwide such as poor quality of life, mental health problems, obstructive sleep apnea, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, certain cancers, and diabetes.
As mentioned earlier, fat produces a large number of essential hormones that affect a person’s body. Excessive or critical hormone deficiency can cause adverse effects that interfere with proper body functions. The studies have shown that excessive abdominal fat disrupts the normal balance and function of some of the hormones. Also, abdominal fat has a role in the release of specific cytokines, a broad category of protein involved in cell signaling, which can potentially increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Besides, it is directly related to high levels of cholesterol and insulin resistance. High cholesterol can block arteries and cause complications, including a heart attack. Insulin resistance can be defined as the difficulty in showing the effect of secreted insulin to control glucose in the body. Increased body fat can cause insulin resistance and, as a result, type 2 diabetes.