There are two basic body shapes – “apples” and “pears” – each exhibiting a different distribution of body fat. Apple-shaped individuals carry most of their excess body fat around their middle (abdomen), while pear-shaped people carry most of their excess body fat on their hips, buttocks and thighs.
Male and Female Body Shape
Although genetics plays a major role in determining body shape, gender and age are also important factors. For example, women typically collect fat on their hips and buttocks, giving them a “pear” shape, while men generally collect weigh around the belly, giving them an “apple” shape. After menopause, as estrogen supplies dwindle, women start storing fat around their abdomen, becoming more apple-shaped in the process.
Health Risks of Apple Shape
Apple-shape people with fat concentrated around the abdomen, are more likely than pear-shaped people to develop health problems related to obesity. Intra-abdominal fat (IAF) is closely associated with Type 2 Diabetes as well as insulin resistance. This kind of abdominal or central fat is also associated with increased risk of hormonal cancers (e.g. breast cancer), ovulatory dysfunction and sleep apnea. Thus apple-shaped individuals have a greater risk of weight-related disorders and need to pay close attention to normalizing their weight.
Waist Hip Ratio Test
One way to know if you’re an “apple” or a “pear” is to test your waist-to-hip ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement. Women with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 0.8 or men with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 1.0 are “apples” and are at increased health risk due to their fat distribution.
Waist Circumference Test
Measuring your waist is another way to check whether your have too much fat around the middle. For example, in women, central obesity is signaled by a waist circumference of about 35+ inches, while in men the danger waist measurement is 40+ inches.