Yes, skinny-fat is a body type

May 18, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Image: Ssuaphoto/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Do you know a person who can eat whatever she wants, but she doesn't seem to gain any weight? Skinny-fat is a real thing, and while it can seem like an amazing gift that everyone would want, it really isn't.

When I was young, I was quite thin. I never had to worry about weight or calories or the questionable content of the food I ate — if it tasted good, I ate it. While we didn't have a ton of fatty or sugary foods in the house when I was growing up, I still sought it out, and when I moved out, those habits intensified. I felt lucky to have such a great metabolism, because while I was somewhat active, I didn't necessarily exercise. And "thin" I remained. Were my friends jealous? Possibly.

It turns out, I really was lucky, but not in the way I thought I was all those years ago. I was lucky because I didn't develop any health problems when I was young despite my poor diet and exercise habits. Now that I'm a fully grown adult, my youthful metabolism has gone by the wayside and I'm learning now what I should have taught myself then: I need to carefully consider everything I eat, because if I don't, I will likely die a premature death.

More: Best news ever: Cheese is one secret to better health

While skinny-fat doesn't sound like it can even be a thing, it certainly can. People who look like they're healthy or meet some form of society's standard of "thin", who have a proper BMI, who look like they're in decent shape and who look like they will live a long life might experience type 2 diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. It's deceiving, and while it makes clothes shopping a breeze, it can ultimately be dangerous.

More: Plus-size model Tess Holliday reignites the debate over healthy at any size

A poor diet and lack of exercise can wreak havoc on your innards, and it can destroy the most important parts as well. So, while you may envy your friend who can pound away Big Macs without worrying about her waistline, you may not realize the chaos that lies within. Such a diet works to shore up your insides with visceral fat, which can surround (and basically coat) vital organs. So, while you can't really see or feel this type of fat, it's there, even when the bearer appears thin.

The moral of the story? Weight should not be the only focus of a healthy lifestyle. While being thinner might be a goal, stripping your internal organs of harmful fat should be a goal, too. And while not all health issues are preventable, you can definitely cut down on your chances of winding up sick or dead at an early age.

More: 6 'Workout for your body type' rules you should live by

So, yes, skinny-fat is a body type. And not only that, but it's one that can ultimately kill you. The good news is that you can do something about it, which makes this a far more cheerful subject than it would be otherwise. Eat well and move around more and your days of being skinny-fat will go bye-bye.