stay healthy...live well! Your guide to research that matters and solutions that work.

Are you a TOFI?
July 1, 2007

Five a day and loving it
March 30, 2007

Will taking vitamins improve your health?
March 16, 2007

Living Well to 100
November 20, 2006

Pass the guacamole, please!
September 5, 2006

Drugs are no substitute for a healthy lifestyle
August 25, 2006

Important news about women and alcohol
August 1, 2006

Why cholesterol-reducing diets sometimes fail
July 18, 2006

Stronger body equals stronger brain, longer life
May 5, 2006

Is Coffee Bad For You?
April 9, 2006

Salmon: not so healthy after all?
February 2, 2006

Losing Weight Without Losing Face
January 4, 2006

Vioxx, Celebrex don't protect stomach after all
December 15, 2005

The links between exercise and breast cancer
December 4, 2005

Your new prescription for better health
October 15, 2005

Latest research on coffee finds several protective benefits and few health hazards
July 28, 2005

Two new screening tests that could save your life
July 11, 2005

Low-dose aspirin does not prevent heart attacks in women
March 10, 2005

Are you a TOFI?

July 1, 2007

And, no, this article has nothing to do with soybean curd! I'm referring to some new research that is really going to change how we look at health, weight, and body size.

By now, I'm sure you're familiar with the BMI (body mass index). It's a formula that combines your height and weight to tell you whether you are underweight, overweight, or like Goldilocks, just right. You can calculate your BMI here and then find your category:

BMI Categories:

· Underweight = <18.5
· Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
· Overweight = 25-29.9
· Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
(Note: The BMI categories may not apply to people with greater than average muscle mass, such as body-builders.)

But now, researchers are saying that a having normal BMI isn't good enough. Using a type of MRI to create full body "fat maps," researchers have discovered that people of normal body weight may still have deposits of fat around their internal organs. The newly identified phenomenon is called TOFI, or Thin Outside, Fat Inside.

Although invisible from the outside, internal fat appears to be just as unhealthy as a more obvious beer gut or love handles. These hidden fat stores generate inflammatory chemicals that raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other diseases.

Short of a full body scan, how do you know if you're a TOFI? The research suggests that normal weight people who don't exercise are more likely to have dangerous internal fat deposits. That means that even though they may be slender, they still carry the health risks of being obese. Those who maintain a normal BMI with a combination of sensible diet and regular exercise get the best of both worlds. They look better (less fat outside) and they're healthier (less fat inside). We'll call them the TIFIs.

So just because you can still zip up those size six jeans doesn't mean you don’t need to exercise. To be healthy inside and out, you've still got to get that body moving. And, by the way, it cuts both ways. Being aerobically fit doesn’t let you off the hook for maintaining a healthy body weight. About a third of those who engage in regular vigorous exercise are still overweight. (FOFIs?) Contrary to what you may have heard (or hoped), studies have found that aerobic fitness doesn't cancel out the disease risks associated with excess body fat.

Maintaining a healthy, beautiful, disease-resistant body requires a combination of regular exercise and healthy eating habits. But it's not all bad news. When you exercise regularly, you burn more calories...and that means you can eat a bit more without gaining weight! To find out how many extra calories you can burn with various types of exercise, use the Daily Needs Calculator on Nutritiondata.com.

If you're ready to start a regular exercise program but don't know how or where to begin, you can find a lot of resources and motivation on the web. One of my favorite fitness experts, Stephen Cabral, writes a weekly column for the Gather.com's Health Channel on Thursdays. You can find his articles on Gather.com.