Our genes, hormones and lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and even our reaction to stress determine our basic body shape. But despite this as we get older we lose muscle, and fat replaces lean tissue. Where you carry those extra pounds, however, can reveal a lot about your health in the years to come. Read on to find out more…
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What it means Lower risk of heart disease, especially for women. Curvy hips and thighs offer a safe store for fat, preventing it gathering in the liver which in turn protects against insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. Pear-shaped post-menopausal women often have greater bone density, spelling a lower risk of osteoporosis.
What it means You’ve drawn the short straw with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cognitive decline, anxiety and osteoporosis – even if you’re normal weight and not ‘fat’. Why? An apple shape is linked to higher levels of liver fat, production of disease-fuelling inflammatory chemicals, and greater insulin resistance.
Why body fat is a health risk
What it means Lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder and kidney disease, certain cancers, greater stress resistance and lower levels of depression.
Why? Higher levels of the hormone, oestrogen, pre-menopause. After menopause, lower oestrogen levels tend to widen the middle of that hourglass.
How to keep your hourglass figure
What it means Broad shoulders, broad chest and narrow hips, the classic male shape, are linked to higher levels of the hormone, testosterone. This body type is associated with a lower incidence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, better coping responses to stress and a better memory.
How to boost your testosterone levels
What it means While slim is generally good, a low-muscle, no-waist figure can be linked to what experts call a low lean BMI (body mass index) in later life, which in turn is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and sarcopenia, age-related loss of muscle mass and density.