Fat On Our Hips!

Might fat on our hips be healthy?  According to senior writer of Live Science this might be the case.  Apparently if you are of normal weight, a little extra padding around the hips and thighs may be a good thing.  Just because you are lean, doesn’t mean that you are healthy.

It has been suggested by a new analysis that lean people who tend to carry fat in their hips and thighs may be at lower risk of heart disease and diabetes than those who tend to carry fat elsewhere in their body.  They hypothesized that problems with the way lean people store fat in the lower body could be an important role in the risk of metabolic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Their study focused on lean people that were metabolically unhealthy and have a body mass index in the normal range but have at least two risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.  About 20% of normal-weight people are metabolically unhealthy.  These metabolically unhealthy lean people are at a high risk for heart disease, diabetes and early death that is even more so than some of the obese people.  Those who are metabolically unhealthy have a 300% higher risk of heart problems or early death.  Obese individuals who don’t have any of the typical risk factors for heart disease and diabetes are only about 25% more likely to experience early death or heart problems compared with normal-weight people who are metabolically healthy.

German researchers analyzed information from nearly 1,000 people, both normal weight, overweight and obese, who underwent tests to determine their precise body fat mass and fat distribution.  They were all at increased risk of heart disease or diabetes, based on weight, family history of diabetes or higher-than-typical glucose levels.

Among normal-weight people, the biggest predictor of unhealthy metabolism was a low accumulation of fat in the lower body that appeared to be protective against metabolic problems for normal-weight people.  When fat is stored in the lower body, it stays put but if not stored, it could end up in more dangerous places like around the heart or liver.  Hips and thighs offer a “safe storage” for fat and stop it from getting into the blood and reaching the organs, according to study co-author Norbert Stefan of the University Hospital Tubingen in Germany.

A person of normal weight that has at least two metabolic risk factors should be checked for metabolic diseases such as fatty liver disease or atherosclerosis so treatment can be started early in the disease course.  Drugs called thiazolidinediones may be helpful for lean people with diabetes or heart disease as they help the body store fat in fat cells and may help metabolically unhealthy lean people to properly store fat in their lower body.  More studies are needed to prove this theory.

There should also be future studies to better understand the factors that put lean and obese people at risk for metabolic diseases that might lead to more tailored treatments for metabolic diseases.

Dr Fredda Branyon