More Americans are becoming overweight or obese, exercising less, and eating unhealthy foods. That’s the finding of the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which shows that 63.1% of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese.

Additionally, one out of four children and adolescents are now considered overweight or obese and are quickly headed for a lifetime of chronic disease. It’s appropriate to say then that America is in a state of health emergency. What’s even more alarming is that approximately twenty percent of overweight Americans may not realize that they need to lose excess body fat because they appear to be of normal weight. They suffer from altered or unhealthy body composition. What is unhealthy body composition? Generally speaking, it refers to carrying too much fat in comparison to lean tissue. It is clear to say that achieving healthy body composition is critically important to experiencing the joy that optimal health can bring.

Body weight alone is not a definitive assessment of body composition. Even after losing weight, you still might be considered over-fat. This occurs when the weight you lose comes predominantly from muscle and not from fat-producing unhealthy body composition. Having excess fat on the inside but looking “normal” on the outside may still result in disease risks that are similar to those who appear overtly overweight.

Several simple, non-invasive methods are available that can estimate body composition. These include waist-to-hip ratio, skin-fold thickness, and bioelectrical impedance analysis.

There is no single cause of unhealthy body composition. Excessive fat accumulation can result from an imbalance from the calories you take in and the calories you burn; lack of physical activity; lifestyle influences such as a high-fat, high-sugar diet; overeating; excess alcohol intake; chronic use of corticosteroids; hormone imbalance; and other metabolic factors.

How do you achieve a healthy body composition? You need to undergo a physical fitness program that incorporates both a healthy diet and exercise. (And possibly supplementation) A successful program helps a person lose weight and look thinner by targeting fat and preserving muscle. This is in contrast to an unhealthy body composition program, which may help a person lose weight, but can result in muscle loss without as much fat loss. By preserving lean muscle mass, a healthy body composition program reduces the risk of disease and may decrease the likelihood that fat will return after the program is complete. This is because a higher ratio of muscle-to-fat may increase the body’s metabolic rate, enabling the body to more effectively burn calories each day.

Fun Fact: The strongest muscle in your body, for its size, is the masseter. Located on either side of your mouth, masseter muscles help you bite down with roughly 150 pounds of force.

About the Author

Christopher Kazda is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Chiropractic Technician at New Beginnings Chiropractic, 1861 Business Hwy 18/151, Mount Horeb, WI 53572. He is available Monday through Saturday to help you reach your fitness goals.

Please call 715-302-2153 or 608-437-9990, email at, or visit, for more information or to schedule an appointment.