Body Fat: What Are the Risks?

Though for most people body fat has negative connotations, fat is critical for good health. The ability to store body fat allowed our ancestors to survive times when food was scarce. Today, fat is still essential for keeping the body functioning, preserving body heat, and protecting the organs from trauma. Therefore, we need a certain amount of body fat.When our bodies store either too much fat or not enough fat is when we experience health problems such as high cholesterol, hypertension, glucose intolerance,and insulin resistance. Too little body fat puts a woman at risk for serious medical or psychological conditions, or both. Having a very low body fat percentage can result in musculoskeletal problems and osteoporosis. It can also upset the hormonal balance causing loss of menstruation. 

Striving for extremely low body fat can also result in severe eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating,which have significant health implications.For those who carry too much fat, the especially dangerous type is fat that is stored at the waist, creating what is often called an apple-shaped body. This fat is known as visceral fat, and its main goal is to protect internal organs. Too much of this type of fat places extra stress on the internal organs and has been linked to many disease conditions. Adipose tissue is fat that is located beneath the skin, often stored on the hips and thighs, creating a pear-shaped body and a cellulite appearance on the legs, the thighs, and sometimes the arms.