Have you ever noticed that people carry weight in different parts of their bodies? Some carry it around their hips, resembling the shape of a pear, while others carry it around the middle, looking more like an apple. For quite a few years, having the shape of an apple has proven to be more of a health risk than a pear, but researchers have been unclear as to why people carry weight in different areas. But new research from the University of Edinburgh is helping to shed light on why humans don’t all carry weight in the same areas — and how the new knowledge can be used to help fight obesity.
Scientists pinpointed a protein known as 11BetaHSD1 that seems to indicate body shape. According to the research that was published in the journal Diabetes, apple-shapes tend to have higher levels of the protein than pear-shapes do. The protein is known to raise levels of hormones that are linked to obesity and is associated with an over-reaction in the immune system that results in unnecessary inflammation that causes damage to healthy cells.
Additionally, the study found that mice with the protein in their bodies were more likely to have unhealthy fat tissue after four weeks on a high-fat diet, compared with mice who didn’t have the protein. Obviously, mice aren’t people, but it’s an interesting discovery.
Researchers say that this new information opens up new avenues for studies and helps scientists better understand why some fat in the body becomes unhealthy (as in the case of apples) while other fat is safely stored for energy (as in the case of pears).
Are you shaped like an apple? Or like a pear?
March 22nd, 2011