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Apple and pear body shapes: Which is healthier?

Hello Sehat
Hello Sehat

Hidup Sehat Hidup Bahagia

Jakarta  /  Mon, September 19, 2016  /  02:51 pm
Apple and pear body shapes: Which is healthier?

The main difference between apple and pear body shapes is where, and how much, the most distributed fat is stored. (Shutterstock/File)

Fat is distributed beneath the skin all over the body and sometimes we can see which part of the body has the most fat. Generally, most body fat exists in the stomach and thigh areas, thus both can determine the shape of one’s body. Fat accumulated around the chest and belly makes our body shaped like an apple, while fat accumulated around the belly and below, such as on the thighs and buttocks, will cause our body to have a pear shape.

Does my body look like an apple or pear?

The main difference between apple and pear body shapes is where the most distributed fat lies and how much fat is stored there. To measure this, we need to use the waist to hip circumference ratio. Simply measure your waist circumference (between the ribs and the navel) and your hip circumference , then compare the two. This ratio determines what shape your body is.

If the waist circumference is higher than the hip circumference, then you have an apple-shaped body. On the contrary, if you have a smaller waist circumference than hip circumference, then you have are pear-shaped. An apple-shaped body tends to have a higher waist to hip ratio compared to the pear shape, meaning that accumulated fat on an apple-shaped body is concentrated around the abdomen or waist, which is linked strongly to central obesity.

Why do women tend to have a pear-shaped body?

The body has its own ways of distributing its own fats, with hormones being one of the most influential factors. The simplest example of hormonal difference is between men and women. Hormonal differences between the two genders tend to make women have a pear-shaped body, while men have an apple-shaped body.

Higher levels of testosterone in men mean they store less fat on the body’s surface. Aside from that, men do not have estrogen, so their hips are not as broad. This is what causes fat in men to be mostly stored around the abdomen, making their waists larger.

Estrogen makes women have broader hips, which is useful during pregnancy and labor. This hormone is also responsible for storing fat around the hips. However, a woman’s pear-shaped body may change over time. During the menopause, the woman’s body undergoes a shortage of estrogen, making fat more easily stored on the waist, causing an accumulation of fat in the upper body area, which often results in an apple-shaped body.

(Read also: Which is more effective for losing weight: exercise or diet?)

Health effects based on body shape

The pear-shaped body is considered to have a healthier waist to hip ratio due to it displaying a smaller waist and fat accumulation. In general,  a normal waist to hip ratio falls below 0.95 for men and 0.86 for women. The smaller the ratio, the better for our health.

Central obesity for an apple-shaped body is considered a more accurate predictor of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease compared to the Body Mass Index for obesity. This is due to the accumulation of fat around the waist resulting in a more significant health risk for cardiac diseases, diabetes and cancer. Other than that, the accumulation of abdominal fat may also be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, including alcohol consumption and a lack of physical activity.

Is pear-shaped body preferable?

Both apple and pear-shaped bodies basically have an overaccumulation of fat. Particularly for women, being pear-shaped is better because it shows that the body has stored fat to fulfill nutrient requirements before and during pregnancy. However, as the body changes post-labor and in menopause, it is good to control the overaccumulated fat around the hips early on, because excess fat around the hips will lead to the accumulation of abdominal fat in menopausal women.   

This does not mean that a pear-shaped body is free of disease risk, because most degenerative diseases have various risk factors; abdominal fat is only one of many factors in degenerative diseases. As reported by the NHS, research shows that a person who has a normal waist circumference will still be at risk of cardiovascular diseases from other risk factors, such smoking, diabetes, hypertension and high blood cholesterol. Changes in body shape may occur at anytime if you have a normal waistline, but those with high blood pressure and who start smoking at a young age will still be at risk of various cardiovascular diseases.

Keep in mind that the body has its own way of distributing fat. Fat distribution around the abdominal and waist areas tends to be relative and can change as you age. Whatever your current body shape is, maintaining an ideal body weight and fat deposition by adopting a healthy lifestyle is necessary to prevent various degenerative diseases. (kes)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.