Are you shaped like an apple … or maybe a pear?
Huh? Is this a serious question?
Yes it is. Some people have a pear-shape while others are apple-shaped. This is the case for both males and females. It may sound strange to compare body shapes to that of fruits but it is a fitting way to do so if you imagine the appearance of both an apple and a pear. The comparison in people is specifically related to the distribution of fat on the body.
Fat does not settle on the same place on everyone’s body. If you are a keen people watcher then you are probably well aware of that already! Apple-shaped individuals tend to accumulate fat in their midsections, which is to say the waistline and the abdomen. Pear-shaped people are more likely to have fat that develops lower on their frames.
In other words if you are a pear then your fat will be on your hips, thighs and buttocks.
Your genes are believed to play a significant role in what your body shape will be. Your age and gender are two other significant factors as well. For example, women tend to be more pear-shaped as they put on weight on their hips and buttocks whereas men are more like apples because they are more prone to put on weight in their stomach region. Following menopause the drop in the hormone estrogen can cause some women’s shapes to become more pear-like in nature.
The apple and pear-shaped analogies are not just meant to be interesting to contemplate. The analogy is done for a greater purpose.
Medical researchers have asked the question if body shape is in any way related to the health of the heart. Studies have shown that it is indeed. Those with an apple-shape and therefore more fat around the middle region of their bodies are more likely to become overweight or obese than their pear-shaped counterparts. This also matters to the heart because heart disease is more commonly seen in apple-shaped people.
Heart problems are more common in apples because of the region of the body where the fat is stored. In other words, closer to the heart as opposed to further away. This makes a difference.
Breast cancer and diabetes are also more likely to occur in apple-shaped folks. Apple-shaped females are more prone to depression and anxiety disorders, problems conceiving and irregularities in their menstrual cycles.
It is not all good news for the pear-shaped person however. Pears (who are predominantly women) are more likely to develop cellulite, osteoporosis, varicose veins and eating disorders. Women who are pear-shaped are more inclined to have lower self-esteem than are apple-shaped women because they view their bodies in a more self-conscious and negative manner. Menopause also tends to affect pears in a different manner than it does apples.
The fat that is stored in the waist and abdominal region of an apple-shaped individual is called intra-abdominal fat (IAF) or visceral fat.
This fat is actually stored deep inside the body and it surrounds a variety of bodily organs. Visceral fat can lead to inflammation and high blood sugar. Those who are pear-shaped and have fat lower on their frames have what is known as subcutaneous fat. This fat is more passive than visceral fat. It is stored as energy and in women is released when a woman gives birth or breastfeeds.
You cannot change your body shape but you can do your part to stay healthy. This means eating nutritiously and exercising on a regular basis.