Are you an Apple, or a Pear?
Several recent studies and articles have highlighted how important WHERE we store fat is to our health. Excess weight is generally stored either in the abdominal area or in the hips, thighs, and buttocks, giving rise to the descriptive terms “Apple” and “Pear.” If you are an Apple (and these shapes appear to be partly determined by genes), you tend to have more visceral fat (fat around the abdominal organs) and this can lead to various diseases (type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, heart problems, urinary problems, dementia, hypertension, and stroke). The only benefit to the Apple shape is lower risk of osteoporosis. Overweight men and post-menopausal women tend to be Apples. Also, smoking is associated with abdominal fat accumulation.
Pears are not as much at risk for the serious diseases listed above, but are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, varicose veins, and cellulite. While a Pear can become an Apple, Apples do not morph into Pears.
The good news? Here is a quote from an excellent article on this topic in the U. C. Berkeley Wellness Letter (June, 2008):
While abdominal fat tends to accumulate faster than other fat, it also tends to come off faster. [More good news:] losing just 2 inches from the waist reduces coronary risk by 11% in men and 15% in women, according to one recent study.
Further information from Weight Management for Your Life:
Some research indicates that elevated waist circumference (Men: equal to or greater than 40 inches; Women: equal to or greater than 35 inches) is a more specific risk factor for some diseases, such as prediabetes, than weight or BMI. An increasing waist-to-hip ratio may be a better indicator of coronary artery calcification than either waist circumference or BMI. Therefore, weight distribution, as opposed to weight alone or BMI, must be taken into consideration; belly weight (abdominal obesity, “visceral fat,” or “central adiposity”) is of most concern. [see also here]