You wouldn’t know a FAT person if you saw them

tofiWe believe what we see.

In fact, we can make judgements so fast that we might not even be aware that we have made them. In his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcom Gladwell illustrated repeatedly that we are incredibly fast at making decisions about what we see. He cited the example of test subjects that were shown a 10 second clip of a professor teaching a class (with the sound turned off). The test subjects were then asked to rate how effective a teacher they thought the professor was. Surprisingly, the subjects ranked his performance almost exactly the same way the professors ACTUAL students had, after an entire semester with him. Here is where it get’s wild. They then performed this same test using two second long clips (still without the sound) and the new group ranked the teacher the exact same way!

Clearly, we are quick to size people up by their body language and appearance. Unlike the example of the professor, determining who is healthy and unhealthy by their appearance is much more complicated.

This can be illustrated by the work of Professor Jimmy Bell, head of the molecular imaging group at the Medical Research Council’s centre at Imperial College, London. He discovered that out of the 800 “skinny” people he scanned with an MRI, 40% of them had massive amounts of visceral fat – specifically fat infiltration of the liver. In other words, they looked thin on the outside, but they were FAT on the inside.

Professor Bell coined the phrase TOFI when describing these individuals, Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside. That means that it is likely that 40% of the “thin” people reading this are actually obese on the inside.

Dr. Robert Lustig made this point very well in his Fructose 2.0 lecture. In it, he showed the scan results of two equally weighted men. One man had nice chubby “love handles”. The other man had very little, if any, extra fat around his midsection. He then drew our attention to all of the visceral fat packed around his internal organs. A look inside both of these men made it clear which one of them was rapidly headed for (A) Type 2 diabetes, or (B)fatty liver disease, or (C) metabolic syndrome (All of the above).

Dr. Lustig kindly pointed out the “love handles” on the one man and said, “so what.” He added, “it’s perfectly healthy, it’s no problem, because subcutaneous fat is actually kinda good for you. There are actually studies that show more subcutaneous fat (equals) more longevity.”

I’ll let him sum it up…

“…The bottom line is there are a lot of normal weight people who have this phenomenon called TOFI, thin on the outside fat on the inside. Probably some right here in the audience! And they get type-2 diabetes, they get dyslipidemia, they get hypertension, etc…Everyone’s at risk, because everyone’s exposed. The question is, what it is you’re exposed to? Because obesity is not the problem, it never was…”

I’m not sure I would have agreed with that statement a few years ago, but a few years ago I still thought I was doing just fine. Imagine my 165 lb surprise when I discovered that I had the visceral fat of a 400 lb obese man. Obesity is a measure of fat…but like Dr. Lustig said, it isn’t the fat that you can see that should worry you. It’s the fat that hides inside your body around your heart and liver. Now, when I hear about thin athletic people keeling over from heart attacks, I’m not surprised. Let’s face it…there is little doubt about the effects from what Marc Sisson calls “chronic-cardio”.

Many carb-loading athletes look great on the outside, but their insides tell a very different story. It doesn’t help that there is so much money to be made from fitness culture. Metabolic Syndrome has some of the best ad agencies in the world doing it’s dirty work for it. However, expert after expert will tell you that real lasting health starts with your diet, not exercise. We have all known those skinny people that can eat whatever they want and don’t get fat. I was one of them. Don’t believe it for a second! According to Professor Bell, close to half of them are obese…on the inside.

Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt summed it up when we interviewed him for the film.”…many people are born on the finish line and they assume they won the race.”

In other words, you wouldn’t know a FAT person if you saw him. He might actually be a 165 lb obese man.

Filmmaker Lathe Poland is one of the creators of the documentary film Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying To Eat.


Speak Your Mind