When a woman asks: ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ she should hope the answer is yes, according to health experts.
That’s because having a big bottom is good for your health – or at least better than having a big tummy.
Studies show that having a generous rear end and thighs, rather than a pot belly, cuts levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and raises levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol that protect against hardening of the arteries.
It also cuts the risk of diabetes, a review in the International Journal of Obesity reports. The findings add to a welter of research on the benefits of having a pear-shaped body.
The Oxford University researchers gathered together various studies on the health benefits of lower body, or ‘ glute of emoral’ fat, then tried to work out why it is better for us than fat stored around the middle.
Ideas include it acting as a ‘buffer’, mopping up fats which could have dangerous effects elsewhere in the body. It may also make higher levels of hormones known to affect appetite and weight.
Finally, it breaks down more slowly than belly fat. While this make sit harder to shift, it also means it produces fewer chemicals called in flammatory cytokines which have been linked to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Researcher Konstantinos Manolopoulos said: ‘The fat around our thighs and hips is different to the fat we accumulate around our tummy.
The cells in lower body fat work differently from the cells in upper body fat.’
The findings tie in with studies showing that the ratio of aperson’s waist to their hips is a better predictor of heart disease than BMI, the GPs’ rule of thumb for judging healthy weights.
In future, drugs that alter the way fat is stored around the body could be used to combat heart and other diseases.
Fotini Rozakeas of the British Heart Foundation said: ‘This research helps us better to understand how fat acts in the body in order to develop new approaches in reducing heart and circulatory disease.
‘If you are overweight, obese, or if your waist size has increased, it is important to make changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet and doing regular physical activity, to reduce your risk of heart health problems.’