Of all the food supplements available today, the most popular are so-called "fat-burning supplements." The reason for this is that fat-burning supplements (FBS) appeal not only to bodybuilders and athletes, but also to those not involved in bodybuilding or sports who want to lose excess body fat. This is a real issue since people are getting fatter every year. I'm not talking about any particular person, but rather the 70% of American adults who are considered overweight and the 50% of Europeans who are also considered overweight. But that term "overweight" needs to be defined. If you go by the standard measures for overweight, such as Body Mass Index (BMI) some of the most muscular people in the world are overweight. But they are hardly fat. The problem with the BMI is that it doesn't consider muscle mass, but rather just measures such indices as weight in relation to height. In reality, despite his massive musculature, Coleman was probably no more than 7% body fat.
So we can safely discount BMI as a valid measure of obesity. More accurate are various body fat testing procedures, such as hydrostatic weighing, where your body fat is measured by dunking you in a large vat of water, and is a more direct measurement of body fat as are other tests, such as DEXA. But anyway you look at it, many people are fat and getting fatter. But how does having excess body fat adversely affect health?
Consider how many times you've seen a person who is grossly obese and over 90 years old? That scenario is rarer than an honest politician. Having excess body fat imparts a high degree of stress to the human body. Not only does the extra weight tax the cardiovascular system, but it also adversely affects joint health, resulting in arthritis. High body fat levels are also associated with increased risk of several types of cancer, asthma, and numerous other ills. But what is it about body fat that makes it so dangerous?
The truth is that some types of body fat are more dangerous from a health perspective than others. The worst type of body fat is known as visceral fat. Visceral fat is deep-lying abdominal fat that you cannot see. It often surrounds various internal organs. This type of fat storage is also called ectopic fat, which refers to having fat accumulation in places where fat should not be. When fat is stored in fat cells, it is far more benign because it stays there as stored fat, unless you do something to cause the body to release the stored fat, such as exercise and diet. But visceral fat is always being released. It travels from the gut to the liver, where much of it is used as a substrate for the production of cholesterol in the liver. But that rapidly-released visceral fat is also . . .