Our genes, hormones, and lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and even our reaction to stress determine our basic body shape. But despite this, as we age, we lose muscle and fat replaces lean tissue. However, where you carry those extra pounds can tell a lot about your health for years to come. Read on to find out more…
Unlimited access to a qualified GP with Saga Health Insurance – you will have access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to a GP consultation service. Learn more about our GP phone service.
What this means Decreased risk of heart disease, especially for women. Curved hips and thighs provide a safe reservoir for fat, preventing it from accumulating in the liver which in turn protects against insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease . Pear-shaped postmenopausal women often have greater bone density, which lowers the risk of osteoporosis.
What this means You’ve drawn the short straw with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cognitive decline, anxiety and osteoporosis – even if you’re normal weight and not ‘fat’ . Why? An apple shape is linked to higher levels of fat in the liver, the production of disease-fueling inflammatory chemicals, and greater insulin resistance.
Why body fat is a health risk
What this means Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder and kidney disease, certain cancers, greater resistance to stress and lower levels of depression.
Why? Higher levels of the hormone, estrogen, pre-menopause. After menopause, lower estrogen levels tend to widen in the middle of this hourglass.
How to keep your hourglass figure
What this means Broad shoulders, broad chest and narrow hips, the classic male shape, are linked to higher levels of the hormone, testosterone. This body type is associated with a lower incidence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, better responses to stress, and better memory.
How to increase your testosterone levels
What this means While lean is generally good, a low-muscled, waistless figure may be linked to what experts call a lean BMI (body mass index) later in life, which in turn is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and sarcopenia, age-related loss of muscle mass and density.