Heart Disease Risk: Are You an Apple or Pear?
Did you know that susceptibility to heart disease is not just dependent upon your body weight, but where you carry it?
Heart disease researchers refer to this as the “distribution of body fat,” and it appears to be an important determinant of risk, not just in adults but in children as well. Think of it as “apple shape” versus “pear shape.”
An apple shape means the bulk of fat is distributed around the abdomen. This shape, also called “central obesity,” is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, as well as risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and high blood pressure.
Pear-shaped persons, who carry more fat in the hip and thighs, appear to be at less risk for these conditions. Men tend to be apple-shaped while women tend toward pear shapes.
In one study, researchers at the College of Medicine discovered that children with chubby stomachs have more heart disease risk factors than their pear-shaped peers. The researchers measured fat distribution in 127 children and related the findings to other measurements of cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol and blood pressure. In children as young as 9 years old—including some who were not necessarily “overweight”—those with the most upper body fat had the greatest risk factors for heart disease.
It may be hard to change the way your body or your child’s body naturally distributes its cushioning, but it is a good idea to maintain normal body weight and cut down on high-fat foods.
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