Pear-shaped women who store fat on their hips and thighs have a reduced risk of suffering from heart attacks, strokes and developing type 2 diabetes, a study says.
German researchers think this is because the hips and thighs store up fat and prevent it from moving to the heart, which can lead to chronic health conditions.
Lead author, Dr Norbert Stefa, 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.”
The trial used MRI scans to measure fat distribution on the body as well as fitness checks. The researchers analysed data from 981 people to assess their risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Good health is normally associated with being a normal weight, but this may not necessarily be the case based on these findings. It is thought one in five people are “metabolically unhealthy” because they may have high blood pressure, high glucose levels and unhealthy levels of fat in their blood.
The fat, which is stored on the hips and thighs, is known as subcutaneous fat and differs from visceral fat which is found on the abdomen and releases harmful chemicals that can affect cardiovascular health significantly.
The researchers said the findings applied to both sexes, but the hip and thigh fat storage is more prominent in pre-menopausal women.
“Genetic analyses suggest that metabolic risk appears to be determined by different pathways in normal weight and obese subjects,” wrote the authors.
The findings have been published in the Cell Metabolism journal.

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