By Janis Roszler, MSFT, RD, CDE, LD/N
For years, experts thought people with apple-shaped bodies had greater worries. Fat stored in the stomach area puts them at a higher risk for health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. They also believed that pear-shaped folks, who stored their fat in the buttocks, thighs and hips, were protected from these health issues. However, a recent study shows that the belief about pear-shaped people may not be correct. In the study, experts found that both pear-shaped and apple-shaped people had an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, such as high fasting blood glucose, high blood pressure and lower HDL “good” cholesterol levels, that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Fat stored in the buttocks, thigh and hip area doesn’t just sit there. It’s active and releases two proteins: chemerin and omentin-1. People with high chemerin levels also tend to have high blood pressure, increased insulin resistance, increased signs of inflammation, high triglycerides and lower levels of HDL cholesterol. Those with low levels of omentin-1 had high triglycerides, a high blood glucose level and a low level of HDL cholesterol.
Where does your body put any extra weight you gain? Does it end up in your stomach area so you appear round, like an apple? Or does it head over to your buttocks, thigh and hip areas, so you look more like a pear: smaller at the top and rounder at the bottom?
KEYS TO WEIGHT LOSS
If you carry extra weight in either your stomach or your buttocks, hips and thighs, losing weight will lower your chemerin level, which in turn, reduces your risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Losing weight isn’t always easy, but it can be done. The National Weight Loss Registry is a list of people who lost a minimum of 30 pounds and have kept the weight off for at least one year. As a pear or an apple, you may be tempted to do belly-focused or butt-focused exercises to reduce the fat stores in these areas. While spot-focused exercises can help tone and strengthen muscle, they don’t reduce the fat in those areas. Your best bet is to focus on the health of your entire body.
GET YOUR Zs
People who sleep fewer than seven hours a night or more than nine hours a night are more likely to gain weight than people who sleep seven or eight hours a night.
If you are worried about your growing belly, increase your soluble fiber intake. Research shows that people who consume 10 g of this type of fiber every day store less fat in their belly area. Food sources include nuts, beans, dried peas, flaxseeds, lentils, oatmeal, oat cereals and oat bran, psyllium, carrots, celery, cucumbers, apples, pears, blueberries and strawberries.