Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fat Around the Bum and Thighs May Be Protective

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

Having extra fat on the body may be a sign of poor health and can increase your risk of a number of diseases. Take excess fat on the abdomen, for example - studies have shown that individuals of an 'apple' shape are more likely to die of heart disease or stroke. But it now appears that fat stored on a particular region of the body may be an exception to this rule. A new study has found that fat localized on the thighs and bum may actually serve a protective purpose and may prolong life in some individuals.

Scientists have long been baffled as to why individuals of a 'pear' shape - leaner up top but heavier on the bottom - seem to be protected from the ailments that those of an 'apple' shape are prone to. According to KonstantinosManolopoulos of Britain's University of Oxford, "It is the protective role of lower body, that is, gluteofemoral fat, that is striking,".

The study points to a number of ways that bum and thigh fat is protective. For one, this area seems to store excess fatty acids from the diet, effectively trapping them from floating around and damaging other parts of the body such as blood vessels, the heart and liver. In addition, 'pears' also have also demonstrated lower levels of inflammatory cytokines, which are chemicals that are mobilized during infection and can play a role in heart disease and diabetes when they are inappropriately active. Furthermore, leg fat may produce more hormones that affect hunger and appetite.

Read more about this study in the article called "Why those fat thighs may help you live longer" from Reuters Health (Jan. 12, 2010)