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What your body shape says about you

Patsy Westcott / 11 September 2018

Your body shape contains a wealth of clues to your future health. Find out more.

Body shapes
Where you carry those extra pounds can reveal a lot about your health in the years to come.

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

Hourglass (women)

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

Wedge (men)

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

String bean

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.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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