Body Fat – How It Affects Our Health

World over, there is the general misinformation about ‘body fat’ and ‘obesity’. While obesity has gained the proportions of a global epidemic, the importance of body fat in the right proportions cannot be dismissed completely. Too little or too much of body fat can lead to health issues.

‘Body fat’ is a term used in familiar tones and most people tend to link it with cholesterol levels and obesity. The body requires certain amounts of fat for metabolic and structural functions although excess amounts of it can have severe health implications. Fat is naturally produced in the body by the absorption of fats from the foods we consume. The metabolism breaks down the fat and two byproducts – glycerol and fatty acids – are released into the body. Glycerol is processed by the liver into glucose which is the storehouse of energy; fatty acids are the major source of energy for the major body tissues, especially the skeletal and the cardiac muscles. Hence, the importance of appropriate amounts of fats in the diet is not to be ignored.

Benefits of body fat

Body fats contribute to some major functions and help in the following areas.

• Maintains healthy hair and skin
• Ensures smooth functioning of body cells
• Provides cushioning effect on organs and tissues
• Maintains right body temperature
• Helps absorb vital vitamins such as Vitamins A, E, D and K
• Acts as a shock absorber for bones
• Provides immunity boost to the body from ailments and illnesses.

Why too much body fat is undesirable

Excess body fat affects the body negatively especially if fats are absorbed and not burnt off. When fat accumulates in the body it leads to obesity and triggers health concerns like breathlessness, arthritis, heart diseases, diabetes etc. While tables indicating ideal percentages of fat can vary from region to region, an ideal percentage for men would be 14-17 percentage of the total weight for men and 21-24 percentage of total body weight for women.

In recent decades, as more and more information is gained about obesity and weight loss, it is essential to know fat percentages and how fat loss differs from weight loss. People who have a healthy lifestyle and are athletically built usually weigh more than others who are heavier by body weight on account of excess fat. Here, the latter is more vulnerable to weight-related health issues than the former and the important point is to lose excess fat. Adopting a plan or program that combines a healthy lifestyle that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains with moderate but regular exercise regimens is the best way to lose fat.