Inflammation is a major factor implicated in many diseases, particularly heart disease.
So while lower-body fat is harder to put on and take off, it doesn't release harmful cytokines, the researchers concluded.
Healthy people who are thick around the backside -- and these tend to be women -- also tend to have lower cholesterol, lower blood glucose levels and increased leptin levels than people who pack on weight around the abdomen, the British reviewers contend. Leptin is a hormone involved in regulating energy intake and expenditure.
Interestingly, buttocks fat in females more easily comes off only when the demand for energy is high, such as when breast-feeding.
Younger women are at a lower risk for heart disease than men until they reach menopause. And it's during this mid-life transition that women's body fat distribution tilts the other direction, the researchers noted.
In men, fat gravitates towards the center because the "male hormone" testosterone inhibits activity of lipoprotein lipase (LPL), an enzyme that plays a role in breaking down fat in the thigh.
But not everyone agrees with the notion that wide waists are harbingers of future heart disease, while big bottoms are comparatively harmless.
"The whole issue is very complex. We know that central adiposity [fat gain] is not good and that waist circumference is a predictor of cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Vasudevan A. Raghavan, assistant professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of cardiometabolic and lipid clinic services at Scott & White Hospital in Temple. "We can hardly make the point that gluteofemoral fat is not without harm. At best, we know there's an association between gluteofemoral fat and overall favorable cardiovascular indices."
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