How belly fat differs from thigh’s
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The genes active in a person's belly fat are significantly different from those in his or her thigh fat, researchers say.
The findings of the new study could shift the way we approach unwanted belly fat — from banishing it to relocating it.
Men tend to store fat in the abdominal area, but don't usually have much in the way of hips or thighs. Women, on the other hand, are more often pear-shaped — storing more fat on their hips and thighs than in the belly.
The answer to the question about why are men and women shaped differently still isn't clear, but it's an issue worth investigating, says Steven Smith from Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes.
That's because belly fat is associated with higher risks of heart disease and diabetes. On the other hand, hip and thigh fats don't seem to play a special role in these conditions.
In the recent study, Smith and colleagues help explain this discrepancy by determining how belly and thigh fat differ genetically. This research might shift common thinking about fat—rather than focusing on how to banish belly fat, perhaps we need to tip the balance in favour of heart-friendly fat in the lower body.
In that case, the study also provides a first step toward aiming treatments at specific regions of the body, especially those that contribute most to the complications of obesity.
Smith and colleagues first took fat samples from men and women. Then they compared the genes most active in belly fat to those most active in thigh fat.
They found that the genes operating in a person's thigh fat are hugely different from those in his or her belly fat. For men, 125 genes are expressed differently in the belly than in the thighs. For women, it's 218 genes.