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Are You an Apple or a Pear?

March 10, 2011
Four body shapes of females.

Image: Wikipedia

One of the most shocking things I’ve learned in Exercise Physiology is how important fat distribution is to health.

While we tend to think of body shape as an aesthetic issue, it turns out that where you store your fat actually contributes to your risk for cardiac issues.

In fact, the ACSM training guidelines require that apple shapes (as determined by waist to hip ratio) be treated as though the person were in the next weight category.

So if you are overweight, I need to take precautions as if you were obese. Already obese? You fall into the extremely obese category. And if you’re already there, you would move to the morbidly obese group.

That’s pretty serious.

If you think about it, this body shape difference is commonly seen between men and women. Men tend to put excess weight on in the stomach, while women pack it on around the hips. It makes you wonder to what extent that contributes to the higher rates of heart disease and cardiac issues in men versus women.

I saw today that scientists have identified a protein which helps determine where fat is stored in the body. This could potentially contribute to drugs which combat obesity.

In the mean time, if you are an apple you have a bit more incentive to keep that extra weight off.

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