It's no secret that some people think journalists are a little thick between the ears. In fact, some political types have even been known to leave press conferences muttering about the "fatheads" asking the probing questions.

But Tom Smart, the mild-mannered, physically fit chief photographer of the Deseret News, has never been the target of such insults.Until now.

Much to his despair, Smart has learned that, like many other members of the media, he has more beneath his suntan than he's aware of - and too much of it is fat.

One of LDS Hospital's newest technological gadgets, designed to quickly, safely and accurately determine the percent of total body fat in humans, revealed Smart's sorry status.

Aptly named the Futrex 5000, the mini-computer measured the percent of Smart's body fat by using "near-infrared light interactance." A light beam entered his body and the presence of fat changed the spectrum of that beam.

By measuring this "spectrum shift" in the glow emitted from his body, the percent of body fat is measured within 2 percent.

Sounds simple enough, right?

It's also painless. The Futrex 5000, which is approximately the size of a desk-top calculator, takes its light beam measurements from the biceps of the dominant arm.

Unfortunately for the politicians who'd like to know how much fat there is per media skull, the Futrex doesn't measure that part of the anatomy. It does, however, measure muscle tone, which would be helpful to unphotogenic government officials wishing to test a photographer's athletic conditioning.

Studies have shown that Futrex 5000 tests, if performed by a trained technician, are as accurate as underwater weighing, skin fold averaging and electrical impedance measurements.

"Those tests are limited by cost and the need for prior fasting and do not allow for self-testing, as does the NIR light interactance technique," said Kathleen Dailey, a clinical dietician in the hospital's Fitness Institute.

Little comfort to the 6-foot-1-inch photographer, who received a good news/bad news report from the computer.

His weight, 173 pounds, is within the recommended range.

His body fat (18 percent or 31 pounds) isn't.

"The excellent range of body fat for a male whose age is 34 years old is 15.2 percent," according to the computer. "Your current percent body fat is above this range."

So what's a 34-year-old man who skis, wind surfs and hefts tons of camera equipment to do?

"Unless you are actively participating in competitive athletics (or a similar activity), you should decrease your body fat to 15.2 percent," the computer advised Smart.

Since his weight was within the recommended range, the computer reminded Smart "to keep in mind that one pound of body tissue is composed of 3,500 calories. Therefore, for every 3,500 calories consumed above the calories expended, your body retains one pound of body tissue."

For Smart to maintain his weight while reducing his body fat, the computer advised that he maintain his calorie intake but increase his daily exercise program by 215 calories per day.

That means that Smart must make time in his tight schedule to walk 29 minutes a day. If he sprints to Deseret News assignments, his computer counselor assures him, he'll achieve that objective in 22 weeks.

Think Smart will adhere to advice from his friend the computer?

Fat chance!!! Smart, who doesn't ever want to be known as a fathead, insisted on a caliper test, in which an instrument pinches a roll of skin to determine the amount of body fat. Much to Smart's relief, this test showed his fat content to be only 16 percent.