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US researchers have identified why a large waistline poses a greater health risk than thick thighs, a study has shown.
The study, by Dr Michael Jensen, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues, examined the cellular mechanisms which regulate regional fat accumulation.
Previous research had shown that body fat distribution is an important signal of the metabolic consequences of obesity, with abdominal fat increasing risk of heart disease, strokes and diabetes, while fat accumulation in the lower body around the thighs and the bottom cutting the risk.
The research team measured fat cells in different areas of the bodies of 15 men and 13 women before and after an eight-week period of high-calorie diet involving ice cream shakes, sweets and energy drinks.
Findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that on average the volunteers put on 2.5kg of upper body fat and 1.5kg of lower body fat.
Dr Jensen said that the discovery challenged the notion that the number of fat cells remains stable in adults.
Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This small study supports what we already know about the harmful link between the location of fat in our bodies and the increased risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
“Making small sustainable changes to our lifestyles can help us keep our weight and waistlines in check – and in doing so, help to reduce our risk of serious illnesses.”
Copyright Press Association 2010
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