Body fat is an essential part of the body and plays many important roles including protection of internal organs, maintaining body temperature and is responsible for certain hormonal functions. It is therefore important to have a healthy amount of body fat, however, it is when body fat percentage exceeds the minimum requirements that the likelihood of developing health conditions starts to increase.
Women tend to have a greater amount of body fat than men due to menstruation and childbearing requirements. According to ACE (2009), the minimum amount of essential body fat for a male is 2-5% and women require 10-13%.
There are many risks associated with having high amounts of body fat and the large majority can be avoided through leading a healthy active lifestyle. Hormonal processes in response to excess fat can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to increased insulin resistance. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and the increased risk of strokes are also associated with high levels of body fat.
Fat can build up alongside other substances to create plaque which lines the arteries, reducing the diameter and increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Various types of cancer, in particular, breast cancer and colon cancer, have also been associated with excess body fat. Further risks include infertility, sleep apnoea (interrupted breathing), joint and back problems and depression.
It is important to address body fat not from an aesthetics viewpoint but from a health perspective. Avoid developing these conditions and putting yourself at risk by eating healthy balanced meals and participating in physical activity and exercise for at least 30 minutes per day.