Why Do Skinny People Have Belly Fat?

Skinny people are not immune to problem areas on the body. Although they may not be fat or look fat in clothing, being skinny doesn't necessarily mean they have six-pack abs or even a flat belly. Many thin women complain of having a soft belly, bloated belly or pooch below the belly button in particular. Consider the underlying causes of belly fat prior to finding solutions to getting a toned tummy once and for all.


Fat may be subcutaneous, lying beneath the skin, or visceral, the fat deep within the body and surrounding the body's organs. Intra-abdominal fat, referred to as belly fat, is far more dangerous than having a small pouch of fat that you can pinch. Visceral fat, affecting the abdomen, causes people to have thick waistlines and distended or protruding bellies. According to Rush University Medical Center, visceral fat has been correlated to heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Muscle vs. Fat

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Mark Hyman, MD refers to skinny fat people in the Huffington Post as Metabolically Obese Normal-Weight people, or MONW. He suggests that this refers to people having too little muscle and too much fat, in particular belly fat. Hence, you can be fat but fit, if you have more muscle mass in relation to fat. In contrast, you can be skinny but fat if you have less muscle versus more fat on your body. According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, adults who were of normal weight but had pre-diabetes had higher mortality rates than overweight people.

Lack Of Exercise

Inadequate physical activity levels can lead to excess belly fat in anyone, including skinny people. Many skinny people may live similar lifestyles to overweight people and not engage in a consistent exercise program. However, lack of exercise will cause belly fat to accumulate in both skinny and fat people. According to Rush University Medical Center, Doctor Sheila Dugan says that exercise is the single most important thing in terms of fighting unwanted belly fat. A Rush study in 2007, led by Dugan, showed that lower intra-abdominal fat levels occurred in physically active women.


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Insulin affects blood-sugar levels in the body as well as the storage of fat. Insulin levels spike when sugary food is ingested leading to further sugar cravings, excess caloric intake and increased hunger cravings. According to Hyman, insulin is also significant in storing fat in skinny people, leading to a fat belly. Not only does it store fat, but insulin also causes hormonal and metabolic changes that lead to muscle loss and increased inflammation levels in the body. These changes can lead to bloated and distended bellies.