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Find out what “skinny fat” body composition means

Asian woman's body weight and weight loss concept

What counts inside

For many people looking slender automatically means that you are not overweight and that you are healthy. However, having a body weight that is within the healthy weight range (i.e. within the recommendations of the Body Mass Index or BMI) may not necessarily mean that you are thin on the inside, or that your risk for developing overweight-related chronic illnesses is negligible.

People who appear slender can still carry excessive body fat on the inside while having a low amount of muscle mass. This is called TOFI, Thin Outside Fat Inside or “skinny fat”. According to scientific data, carrying  excess fat in the body, particularly at the abdominal area (belly fat) is a major risk factor for developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. And this is independent of your BMI. So inside counts, which is the amount of fat in the body.

The Asian phenotype

Due to genetic differences in body composition, Asians tend to have a higher amount of body fat, particularly belly fat. This “skinny fat”-body type also explains why Asians tend to develop diabetes (high blood sugar levels) at a lower BMI than Europeans.

One way to address TOFI is our diet, especially the type of carbohydrate we eat. Carbohydrate foods are important nutrients we consume every day. However, it matters to our health that we consume carbohydrates of the right nutritional quality – i.e. eating carbohydrates that keep our blood sugar levels low and balanced, while not spiking them is key.

How does this benefit the skinny fat body composition?

When we consume high glycaemic carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, white rice, sugar, etc), this quickly raises our blood sugar levels, which in turn triggers a high increase of insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone that helps to down-regulate our blood sugar levels; at the same time, insulin is a storage hormone. This means that it promotes the conversion of glucose to fat and also fat storage while it simultaneously suppresses fat burning.

To improve the nutritional quality of the food, product developers can use Palatinose™ (isomaltulose) as key ingredient. Palatinose™ is a carbohydrate that does not spike your blood sugar levels. It is slowly and completely digested and absorbed, which is reflected in a low and balanced blood sugar profile. Palatinose™ has been shown in human clinical studies to improve body composition, address belly fat, and also increase fat burning.

So we can make smart food choices everyday by choosing low glycaemic options. And being in the food industry allows us to reach out to our consumers to improve the nutritional quality of the foods with our science-based ingredients.

Sugar beet fields.
Palatinose™ (isomaltulose) is made from sucrose that comes from sugar beets.


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