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Are you fat on the inside? TUESDAY; Forget your weight, it's the visceral fats you should be concerned with, according to obesity experts. So which of these volunteers were fatter on the inside than on the outside - and could you be too?New scanner can check for hidden danger wrapped round your organs.

Byline: MATTHEW BARBOUR reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk

STEPPING on the scales can be a daunting prospect. But scientists warn it isn't your weight you should be worried about - instead you should be looking at the amount of harmful fats, known as visceral fats, in your body.

Those who eat the wrong foods or do not exercise enough may have a perfectly normal Body Mass Index (BMI) - the generally accepted measure of healthy weight - but still suffer from dangerously high levels of visceral fats.

Professor David Haslam, from the National Obesity Forum, said: "Visceral fat is the dangerous kind, caused by a high carbohydrate diet and sedentary behaviour. Unlike the blobby, more benign fat just under your skin, visceral fat is stored deeply, wrapping itself around the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas, and it even creeps through muscles.

"So you can be thin on the outside, but fat on the inside, which is actually less healthy."

Using the BMI measurement, many professional athletes are classed as overweight or obese as they have much more muscle, which weighs more than fat, even though they are fit and healthy.

Meanwhile, those classed as healthy may have hidden stores of harmful fats that are not being diagnosed or treated, leaving them at greater risk.

A new DEXA scan (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) offers a way to measure hidden fats, muscle mass and bone density. Four guinea pigs agreed to try out the state-of-the-art scanner to see what was really going on under the skin, and here's what they discovered.

Visit Bodyscan at bodyscanuk.com.

DEXA body scan including visceral fat estimate and personal consultation, PS159, or PS258 for two people. Packages available.

Katy needs to do some weights and cut carbs Katy Gray, a 35-year-old charity worker Weight: 14st 3lb Height: 5ft 4in BMI: 33.4 (obese) Katy says: "As a working mum of two pre-school children, my diet and weight fluctuate.

"I have the odd takeaway and the odd binge night in with chocolate and crisps. I struggle with snacking and probably drink a whole bottle of wine one night at the weekend.

"For exercise, I've been doing Pilates once a week for the last two years and have done a couple of running challenges but struggle to stick at it once the event is over."

Phil says: "Katy has a very high fat mass of 85lb (39kg) with high visceral fat, increasing her risk of diabetes and other illnesses.

"The good news is that she's developed the muscles of a pro bodybuilder to carry all her excess weight around. This muscle will help her burn calories to shift some of the excess fat but I'd suggest she does some weights and running to speed that process up. She should also cut carbs - bread, rice, pasta, sugar, soft drinks - and increase her protein intake."

Katy says: "I knew I had to make some changes and the camera doesn't lie. Seeing myself was a massive shock.

Fat mass of total body FMI 14.2 LMI 18.9 Visceral fat "I've started on a low-calorie diet and am taking on a "swim the Channel" challenge for my charity Heart Research UK, so hopefully that will start the changes I need to make."

Marian should walk at a faster pace and lose 11lb Marian Nicholson, a 67-year-old charity worker Weight: 10st 8lb Height: 5ft 2in BMI: 27 (overweight) Marian says: "I'm active without being a gym-goer. I enjoy cycling, long walks on Sundays and Pilates once a week.

"I drink between 10 and 15 units alcohol and have one takeaway a week, but other than that, I have a healthy diet.

"Until recently, I had a slim torso and large hips and thighs, but two years ago I came off hormone replacement therapy and within 12 months, my hips and thighs vanished, while my tummy seemed to expand."

Phil says: "Marian does seem to have a high amount of visceral fat, but that tends to increase as we get older. She has a healthy amount of muscle mass, which should help her stay in shape and she has very good bone density.

"Losing just 11lb (5kg) of overall fat would make a significant difference, and would most likely drop off her tummy first. I'd suggest regular upper body exercise, making her walks brisker, and taking out 10-20 per cent of her calorie intake."

Marian says: "The visceral fat data was reassuring - going through the menopause can cause quite dramatic changes to your body, and knowing I'm not immediately at risk is a weight off my mind.

RESULTS Fat mass of total body FMI 8.97 LMI 16.2 Visceral fat "Knowing I only need to drop 5lb to go from the overweight to normal category really gives me something to aim for."

Low body fat but Chris must change exercises Chris Payne, a 57-year-old business consultant Weight: 8st 8lb Height: 5ft 4ins BMI: 20.3 (normal, bordering on underweight) CHRIs says: "I've always hated exercise, and after going through a divorce a few years ago I let things slip.

"I then started exercising at home first thing every morning - mostly press-ups, pull-ups, running on the spot and swinging a 16kg kettlebell.

"I also changed my diet, having a smoothie for breakfast, salad and eggs for lunch, and fish or steak with green veg for dinner.

"I hardly ever drink but relax my diet if I'm at dinner parties." Phil says: "While Chris has low body fat, what's most surprising is how little muscle mass he has - lower than any other male we've ever scanned.

HEALTH SCORE 12.5kg -22.3% weight N/A 8 1 48.5 9 "He's been swinging the same kettlebell and doing bodyweight exercises - good for keeping a lid on fat but no good at all for building muscle. To build muscle, especially when you are over 50, you need to increase calories, protein and carbs, and push very heavy weights."

Chris says: "I was thrilled to see I have very low fat, but I was shocked at how little muscle I have.

"I know now that I need to up my weights, but crucially, I also need to eat more to fuel any muscle growth.

"I'm not relishing joining a gym full of sweaty alpha males!"KEY TERMS:? Fat Mass = The proportion of your total bodyweight that is fat. Like weight and BMI, it can be unfairly skewed by muscle mass, so a health score is of limited value.

. ? FMI = Fat Mass Index (how much fat you carry in relation to your height). Lower fat is better, so an FMI below 6 for a man and 8 for a woman are good numbers to aim for.

. ? LMI = Lean Mass Index (essentially how much muscle in relation to your height). Above 18 for a man and 14 for a woman show healthy amounts of muscle. ? Visceral fat = Unhealthy fat around the organs. Above 100 is classified as "increased risk" of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some forms of cancer, stroke, and other conditions. Above 160 is classed as "high risk".

. ? Health score = a rating between 1 and 10 (where 10 is best) for the key health measures of FMI, LMI and visceral fat, accounting for age and sex.

Awesome muscles but Nigel's diet is lacking Nigel King, a 48-year-old sports and business performance coach Weight: 16st 2lb Height: 6ft 1in BMI: 29.7 (overweight, bordering on obese) Nigel says: "I consider myself fit and active, and I think I'm healthy.

"I have a good diet, mostly fish and chicken, with lots of salad. I only eat red meat when eating out, and only drink alcohol at weekends - maybe a glass of wine per night and a gin and tonic.

"I also swim three times a week, with one strength session a week and the occasional bike ride." Phil Chant, clinic director at Bodyscan in central London, says: "Considering the amount of exercise he does, Nigel carries quite a bit more fat than I'd expect.

"But he has awesome levels of muscle, pretty much pro-bodybuilder levels. If he stripped away some fat - ideally around 9kg - he could be a cover model.

"His visceral fat is also higher than it should be for someone who does this much exercise.

"Nigel sounds like a Bear Grylls action man but he admits to an inconsistent diet, eating too much with some bouts of binge eating.

Consistency is the key." Nigel says: "The body scan gave me clear messages of where I am currently at, what is good and the areas that I need to work on.

RESULTS HEALTH Fat mass 23.4kg - 22.8% of total bodyweight N/FMI 6.95 4 LMI 22.6 9 Visceral fat 88.3 3 "It's exactly what I needed. It's not enough to just do lots of exercise and eat healthy food, you need to look at the bigger picture, which is what I'll be doing from here on in."

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RESULTS Phil Chant checks the Bodyscan
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 13, 2018
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