AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Normal-weight people who are "overfat" have just as much of an increased risk of health problems as those who are overweight or obese, according to a new report.
Researchers say 76 percent of the world's population is overfat, defined as having enough excess body fat to cause health problems. The study found that health concerns are not limited to obese or overweight people but also normal-weight individuals who are considered overfat.
"The overfat pandemic has not spared those who exercise or even compete in sports," Dr. Phillip Maffetone, lead author and CEO of MAFF Fitness Pty Ltd., said in a press release. "The overfat category includes normal-weight people with increased risk factors for chronic disease, such as high abdominal fat, and those with characteristics of a condition called normal-weight metabolic obesity."
Maffetone worked with Ivan Rivera-Dominguez, research assistant at MAFF, and Paul B. Laursen, adjunct professor at the Auckland University of Technology. MAFF Fitness is a health and wellness program with social media presence and a smartphone app.
"We want to bring awareness of the rise in these risk factors, where the terms 'overfat' and 'underfat' describe new body composition states," Maffetone said. "We hope the terms will enter into common usage, to help created substantive improvements in world health."
The study highlights the term "overfat" is needed to replace the notions of "overweight" and "obese." Other highlights of the study suggest that waist circumference is a more practical measure of metabolic health than weight.
Researchers stated that the term overfat may be more helpful in addressing certain global health issues.
"This is a global concern because of its strong association with rising chronic disease and climbing healthcare costs, affecting people of all ages and incomes," Mattetone said.
The study was published in Frontiers in Public Health.