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Could a Bigger Bottom Boost Health?
Date:1/12/2010

Derriere fat curbs inflammatory processes linked to heart disease, experts say

TUESDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Big-bottomed women, take heart.

Fat that settles around the thighs and buttocks may be better for you than a tummy tire, experts say. In fact, a new review of the data on the subject suggests it may even help protect your health.

"It is the protective role of lower body, that is, gluteofemoral fat that is striking," wrote a team of British researchers in the Jan. 12 online edition of the International Journal of Obesity. "The protective properties of the lower-body fat depot have been confirmed in many studies conducted in subjects with a wide range of age, BMI and co-morbidities," they added.

In contrast, people with more tummy fat relative to lower-body fat -- often measured by waist-to-hip ratio -- are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions related to obesity.

In fact, this measurement is even more predictive of heart disease than body mass index (BMI) alone, according to researchers at the University of Oxford.

"The authors have summarized a robust literature trying to defend the fact that if you put fat downstairs, particularly if you're a woman, there are potentially some health benefits," said Dr. Robert Eckel, an obesity expert and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.

The purpose of fat in general is to store energy for later use, a function more helpful in prehistoric times when feast-or-famine conditions reigned than in the current couch-potato, potato-chip era.

Typically, the "spare tire" of fat around the tummy can accumulate more easily than hind-quarters (gluteofemoral) fat, but as dieters know, it can also be metabolized away more quickly than fat around the bottom. On the other hand, fat settling around the derriere may be healthier than abdominal fat, because
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