Body Composition


America is in a state of health emergency. More than two thirds of the U.S. adult population is overweight and over 35.7% are considered obese. 31.8% of children and adolescents are now considered overweight or obese and are quickly headed for a lifetime of chronic disease. We are fatter than ever and the numbers continue to rise at a dreadfully high rate! Even more alarming is the fact that many Americans may not realize they need to lose excess body fat, because they physically "appear" to be of normal weight. Despite looking thin and having a normal weight, they have altered or unhealthy body composition. (Illustrated below)

What is unhealthy body composition? Generally speaking, it refers to carrying too much fat in comparison to lean tissue (e.g., muscle). It is clear that achieving healthy body composition is critically important to expe­riencing the joy that optimal health can bring.

The Consequences of Unhealthy Body Composition

 Unhealthy body composition and excess body weight often lead to obesity, which is associated with serious health consequences including:
     *Heart disease * High blood pressure *Metabolic syndrome *Back pain *Certain types of cancer *Estrogen-related problems   
     *Excess fatigue *Sleep apnea *Stroke *High cholesterol *Diabetes *Respiratory problems *Kidney disorders
     *Gallbladder disorders *Osteoarthritis *Urinary incontinence

Metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome) affects approximately 50% of Americans, and is character­ized by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood insulin and glucose levels. People with metabolic syndrome are at greater risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease.

As a rule, a waist circumference greater than 40 inches for men and greater than 35 inches for women significantly increases the risk of metabolic syndrome. Even hormone balance can be affected by unhealthy body composi­tion, because estrogen can be produced in fat tissue. An increase in fat-to-muscle mass could therefore lead to an imbalance in estrogen. Estrogen imbalance has been associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), uterine fibroid tumors, fibrocystic or painful breasts, cervical dysplasia, endometriosis, systemic lupus erythematosis and breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.
Body Composition is More Than Just Your Weight Body

A December 2012 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association has stirred controversy regarding "normal weight."  Headlines proclaimed "Being Overweight is Linked to Lower risk of Mortality."  However, reading beyond the headline in that TIME HEARTLAND article(1), the flaws in the study were discussed, including that World Health Organizations categories of "normal weight" were used

By those standards, most Westerners were over average world weights.  There are a lot more under-privledged people in the world.  Also, reverse causation should be considered: 
malnourished and sick people tend to be thin.  Having adequate muscle is important for longevity.

It is also true that fat accumulates fat-soluable chemicals from processed foods and chemical pollutants.  Detoxification programs support elimination of these accumulated toxins for safer weight loss. (2,3)

Weight alone (what the scale says) is not a definitive assessment of body composition. Even after losing weight, you might still be con­sidered over-fat. This occurs when the weight you lose comes predominantly from muscle and not from fat-producing unhealthy body composition. Having excess fat on the inside but looking normal on the outside may result in disease risks that are similar to those who appear overtly overweight.

Where fat accumulates also impacts the degree of risk. Excess fat that is concentrated near the waist; a con­dition generally referred to as central adiposity or an "apple" shape ­greatly increases the risk of disease. The illustration above outlines the problems associated with this type of unhealthy body composition - just because you look thin doesn't mean you are healthy!

Several simple, non-invasive methods are available that can estimate body composition. These include waist-to-hip ratio, skin-fold thick­ness, and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).

Factors That Lead to Unhealthy Body Composition

There is no single cause of unhealthy body composition. Excessive fat accumulation can result from an imbalance between the calories you take in and the calories you burn; lack of physical activity; lifestyle influences such as a high-fat, high-sugar diet; overeating; excess alco­hol intake; chronic use of corticosteroids; hormone imbalance; and other metabolic factors.

Achieving a Healthy Body Composition

As the illustration above outlines, a healthy body composition program helps a person lose weight and look thin­ner by targeting fat and preserving muscle. This is in contrast to an unhealthy body composition program, which may help a person lose weight, but can result in muscle loss without as much fat loss. By pre­serving lean muscle mass, a healthy body composition program reduces the risk of disease and may decrease the likelihood that fat will return after the program is complete. This is because a higher ratio of muscle-to-fat may increase the body's metabolic rate, enabling the body to more effectively burn calories each day.

A traditional approach to improving body composition includes exercise and reduced caloric intake, but nutritional supplementation may also offer additional, significant benefits. For example, one study comparing a doctor-supervised, nutrition-based body composition pro­gram* to a popular, over-the-counter diet drink showed dramatically different results. Patients on the doctor-supervised program achieved 11 pounds of weight loss from fat and they actually increased their muscle mass. The patients on the over-the-counter diet drink lost the majority of their weight from muscle rather than body fat-despite being prescribed the same foods and exercise routine as those on the doctor-supervised program. Our body composition program incorpo­rates the nutritional support necessary to achieve fat loss and preserve muscle. It is comprehensive, yet tailored to meet your individual needs. * labeled Mediterranean Diet with Low Glycemic Index and Medical Food (Ultra Meal™, Metagenics) in chart below.

You have the power to shape your body for better health. Take the first step to achieving healthy body composition. Ask us today!

Adapted from Advanced Nutrition Publications, Inc.

Comparison of Representative Clinical Outcomes Related to Metabolic Syndrome

aWierzbick, Int J Clin Pract 2006;60(12):1697·1706. bSamaha et al., Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Bioi 2006;26:624·630. cDespres et al., N Engl J Med 2005;353:2121-2134. dParagh et aI., Br J Clin Pharmacol 2006;61(6):694-701. eBaliantyne et aI., Am J Cardiol 2003;91 (suppl):25C·28C. fNieuwdorp et aI., Diabetes Obes Metab 2007;9:869·878. gSzapary et al .. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Bioi 2006;26:182-88. hAronne, Am J Med 2007;120(3A):S26.S34. iHunninghake et aI., Clin Ther 2003;25(6):1670-1686. jDavidson et al., Clin Ther 2005;27(6):715-727. kGoldberg et aI., Am J Cardiol 2000;85:1100-1105. lMcKenney et al., Am J Med 1998;104:137·143. mNicholis et aI., JAMA 2007;297(5):499-508. nEinhorn et al., Clin Ther 2000;22(12):1395-1409. oBulcao et al., Braz J Med Bioi Res 2007;40:229·235. pPavo et aI., J Clln Endocrinol Metab 2003;88:1637-16 45 . qStelnmetz et aI., J Cardiovasc Pharmacol1996;27(4):563-570.
*Calculated from mean change divided by mean baseline value. Calculated from median change divided by median baseline value.
#Results obtained in a 12-wk, open-labeled, randomized, 2-arm clinical study conducted with 44 subjects at the Functional Medicine Research Center
SM, the clinical research arm of Metagenics, Inc.