Are you an Apple or a Pear?

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have pinpointed a protein that plays a part in how fat is stored in the body. And how the body stores fat – whether it’s deposited more around the torso (apple-shaped) vs around the hips (pear-shaped) – can correspond to outcomes such as obesity and diabetes.

Fat stored around the torso is considered to be an unhealthy type of fat, and is more likely to be stored around the vital organs within the torso. It’s also linked to an over-reaction within the immune system which then creates inflammation. This inflammation leads to reactions that can cause harm locally to tissues and affect the whole organism, promoting diabetes.

Healthier fat, linked to the presence of lower levels of the particular protein studied, tends to be stored around the hips. This type of fat is used more safely by the body as a source of energy, as opposed to provoking the immune system and creating inflammation.

Scientists are now looking at ways to make drugs that inhibit this protein, however, much of the current obesity problem (and the resulting health concerns) is due simply to diet. In particular, the overabundance of fatty foods (especially ‘bad fats,’ including trans-fats), as well as excess simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. Though our body requires carbohydrates, we were designed to ingest only small amounts of the simple sugars (e.g., glucose, fructose, sucrose). Excess sugars get stored as... fat. The bulk of our carbohydrates should come from complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, and some fruits.

Whether your body shape tends toward more of an apple-shape vs a pear, it’s ultimately our dietary choices that determine how much fat, overall, we store! By maintaining an ideal body weight, you can avoid, or at least minimize, many of the chronic health conditions afflicting modern society such as obesity, diabetes, and arthritis.

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