Your doctor told you you’re pear-shaped, that you don’t have so much to worry about. So you have been sitting on your laurels, content to live with that extra fat on your lower half. But maybe being a pear is overrated.
Dietitians and physicians have, for years, visually divided their patients into two groups, the apples and the pears. Having a pear shape was preferred because fat concentrated in the buttocks, hips and thighs was thought to be less dangerous to your health than the apple shape’s abdominal obesity.
A recent study conducted at the University of California at Davis and published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in January questions the validity of this assumption. According to the study’s investigators, gluteal (on the buttocks) fat is metabolically active in a negative way.
Studying people with early metabolic syndrome, (those with large waistlines, low-levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), high blood pressure, insulin resistance and high triglyceride (TG) levels) the researchers found that the participants’ gluteal fat secreted two proteins, chemerin and omentin-1, that can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance. Increased chemerin levels were associated with high blood pressure, elevated triglyceride levels, insulin resistance and low HDL levels, while low omentin-1 concentrations correlated with high triglycerides, low HDL and high glucose values.
Associations don’t provide proof, of course, but they are useful to build evidence for scientists to take the next step and conduct intervention trials.