A pear-shaped fig­ure has some health ben­e­fits, re­searchers say

It can lower the risk of a heart at­tack, stroke and di­a­betes

The Star Early Edition - - HEALTH - DAILY MAIL

IF YOU find your­self ask­ing “does my bum look big in this”, don’t be too up­set if the an­swer is yes – be­cause it could be good for your health.

Be­ing pear-shaped can lower your risk of heart at­tack, stroke and di­a­betes, as long as you are other­wise still a healthy weight, a study has found.

Sci­en­tists said this is be­cause the hips and thighs act as a “sponge” and store up fat, stop­ping it from trav­el­ling to the heart and liver where it can cause th­ese ill­nesses.

Hip and thigh fat is also bet­ter than car­ry­ing weight around your mid­dle, as tummy fat is a dif­fer­ent type of fat and re­leases po­ten­tially harm­ful chem­i­cals into the blood.

While be­ing pear-shaped low­ered the dis­ease risk in both men and women, the au­thors be­lieve the pro­tec­tion is par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent in pre-menopausal women, who store more fat than men do on their hips and thighs.

This is be­lieved to be why women see their risk of hav­ing a heart at­tack or a stroke rise rapidly af­ter go­ing through menopause, when fat tends to be re­dis­tributed to their waists. But while be­ing pear-shaped ap­pears to have a pro­tec­tive ef­fect for slim peo­ple, the study found it makes lit­tle dif­fer­ence for those who are over­weight – be­cause the fat lev­els in their or­gans are likely to be al­ready too high.

Lead au­thor Dr Nor­bert Ste­fan, an ex­pert on di­a­betes from the Univer­sity of Tübin­gen in south­ern Ger­many, said: “It is bet­ter for peo­ple of nor­mal weight to be pear-shaped rather than ap­ple-shaped, so that weight is car­ried on the bot­tom half of their body rather than around the mid­dle.

“The hips and thighs offer ‘safe stor­age’ for fat, stop­ping it from get­ting into the blood and reach­ing the or­gans.”

Many thin peo­ple with a nor­mal body mass in­dex (BMI) be­lieve they are healthy sim­ply be­cause they are not over­weight.

But one in five are “metabol­i­cally un­healthy” and suf­fer from high blood pres­sure, high blood sugar or high lev­els of fat in the blood. They can then be more than three times as likely to de­velop car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease or type 2 di­a­betes – and can be more at risk than some obese peo­ple.

But the re­searchers, who looked at 981 peo­ple with a high risk of th­ese con­di­tions, found that those with big­ger thighs and hips were less at risk.

This was based on MRI scans of fat dis­tri­bu­tion around the body and health checks.

Ex­tra weight on your hips and thighs is known as sub­cu­ta­neous fat, which means it sits un­der the skin and is sim­ply a store of fat.

“Fat in the hips and thighs is largely dif­fer­ent from fat in the ab­domen, which is called vis­ceral fat. In pear-shaped peo­ple, th­ese ar­eas work like a sponge, with fat stored in fat cells where it can­not do much harm,” Ste­fan said.

Vis­ceral fat, mean­while, re­leases chem­i­cals that in­crease the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. This type of fat also pumps out fatty acids into the blood and has been linked to high choles­terol and in­sulin re­sis­tance, a cause of di­a­betes.

The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Cell Me­tab­o­lism, sug­gests putting on hip and leg fat could even be ben­e­fi­cial for some thin peo­ple who al­ready have di­a­betes or heart prob­lems.

Drugs called thi­a­zo­lidine­diones, which are al­ready pre­scribed for those with type 2 di­a­betes, help re­dis­tribute vis­ceral fat into sub­cu­ta­neous fat as well as low­er­ing in­sulin re­sis­tance.

LOOK­ING GOOD: Boi­tumelo Thulo, left, and Min­nie Dlamini show off their curves. As long as you have a healthy body weight, a volup­tuous der­rière will count in your favour, sci­en­tists say.

PIC­TURES: IN­STA­GRAM / FRANÇOIS HEYDENRYCH PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

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