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When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s, there was no obesity epidemic, and children were not developing old-age maladies such as heart disease. Cancer, Alzheimer's, and autism were virtually unheard of. Living a healthy lifestyle was a lot easier. More...

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Fat Skinny People

To mention skinny people and fat in the same breath seems to be an oxymoron. Since we size everyone we meet by how they look, it is hard to imagine that a skinny person could at the same time be fat.

Everyone knows an overweight person when he sees one. Telltale signs are usually bulging bellies, plump faces, and generally a body which is huge and far from firm.

Many people would never suspect that skinny people can also be fat. There are no telltale signs. The stomach is as flat as a pancake and the face is healthy looking. But there are many fat skinny people walking around.

There are physical laws at work which affect every man and woman on planet earth. One natural physical law is that a person will begin to lose lean body mass (muscle) once a certain age is reached.

As a person ages, muscle atrophies and is replaced by fat. It is a natural human process. This process is similar to a machine. As it ages, parts wear and break. In order to keep the machine in good working order throughout the years, it has to be maintained.

The human body is no different. It ages and begins to wear with time. The skin loses its elasticity, the bones grow thinner (osteoporosis), and muscle atrophies. Basically we all begin to droop! Like the machine, a good maintenance program will reverse some of this damage.

Beginning at about age 45, a human being loses approximately 1 percent muscle per year. Muscle is active in that it burns calories. The more muscle a person has, the more calories he or she will burn while at rest.

As muscle atrophies due to the normal aging process, and lack of strength training exercises, metabolism slows down and fat accumulates. This happens to skinny people and to otherwise plump people.

If a thin person is not physically active, and is in his 40s or beyond, he is getting fat no matter how slender he appears. An ordinary bathroom scale will not indicate this process. It just tells how much the combined muscle and fat weighs.

The only way to measure the amount of body fat you are carrying around is to have it measured either by skin calipers or electronic hand held devices that are available. Omron Healthcare makes one such device.

Below is a table of recommended body fat percentage ranges for male and female:

WomenAge20-39 40-5960-79

(This table was reprinted from the Omron Body Fat Analyzer [model HBF-306] instruction manual.)

How can you prevent the inevitable from happening? Weight training. You are never too old to start. Resistance training will prevent muscle loss and the subsequent decline in metabolism. It will enable you to remain strong and less likely to fall. And if you do fall, you will not be as susceptible to hip fractures. Hip fractures are one of the leading causes for senior citizens being confined to nursing homes, and even death.

"Often, a fall with fracture is a frequent precursor to long term residence in a nursing home" (www.mamashealth.com/senior/hip.asp)

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