People of a healthy weight but with more fat in their hips, thighs and legs could be at a lower risk of strokes, diabetes and heart attacks.
BBC News reports that the findings show that a lack of fat in the lower half of the body corresponds with an increased risk of mortality and/or cardiovascular disease.
But the findings do not apply to those who are overweight. The reason being that fat levels around the lungs and hearts of overweight people might already be too high.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Norbert Stefan at the department of internal medicine IV, University Hospital Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany, a diabetes specialist and lead author of the study, said that it’s better for people to be pear shaped than apple shaped if they are a healthy weight, as the hips and thighs provide “safe storage” for fat.
This is because the extra weight in thighs and hips is different from the fat stored deeper in the abdomen. Abdominal fat is more likely to release fatty acids into the blood, which can lead to diabetes, insulin resistance and high cholesterol.
A BMI in the normal range associates with a decreased risk of cardiometabolic disease and all-cause mortality. However, not all subjects in this BMI range have this low risk. Compared to people who are of normal weight and metabolically healthy, subjects who are of normal weight but metabolically unhealthy (∼20% of the normal weight adult population) have a greater than 3-fold higher risk of all-cause mortality and/or cardiovascular events. Here we address to what extent major risk phenotypes determine metabolic health in lean compared to overweight and obese people and provide support for the existence of a lipodystrophy-like phenotype in the general population. Furthermore, we highlight the molecular mechanisms that induce this phenotype. Finally, we propose strategies as to how this knowledge could be implemented in the prevention and treatment of cardiometabolic diseases in different stages of adiposity in routine clinical practice.
Norbert Stefan, Fritz Schick, Hans-Ulrich Häring