I have always had a love-hate relationship with my pear shaped body. On the one hand, voluptuous hips and thighs were values, no worshipped by the Grecians (at least that's what I've been told). On the other hand, always knowing that if I gain even 5 pounds it's going to go right to my hips and thighs, causing me to be what's affectionately known as ‘bottom heavy" - not so good. But heck, my fellow apples - those people who can have the most amazing or downright skinny legs and arms, but who gain weight in their abdomen or gut - have it easier, I always thought, with their oversized sweaters and mini-skirt camouflaging their extra weight. But then I found out that abdominal fat can be the harbinger of diabetes risk, heart disease risk, stroke risk, cancer risk and many, many ills. So then I felt just a bit "pear happy," reveling in the fact that my fat was just a tad less dangerous (though any extra weight is an unwelcome risk factor for certain conditions).
Well, my "tad less dangerous conclusion" based on studies has been upset just a bit by a new study and a series of recent observations. Nutrition researchers at the University of Washington in St. Louis now suggest that body shape is not the whole story when it comes to fat deposits and health risk. Excess liver fat - which is clearly not visible to the naked eye- appears to be the true risk factor for insulin resistance, cholesterol abnormalities and other problems that contribute to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Having too much stored fat in the liver is called "non-alcoholic fatty liver disease" and it has rather serious health implications.
The study's observations involved children who were found to have fatty liver disease and the correlation of liver fat deposits to low HDL (the good cholesterol), and abnormalities in glucose and fat metabolism. It did not necessarily matter if the kids were apples or pears - just the presence of fatty deposits in the liver bestowed the health abnormalities. As these kids became teens, multi-organ resistance to insulin occurred. Experts who observe fatty livers in kids, teens or adults should intervene and treat with serious treatment therapies to reduce this risk factor. That means serious calorie restriction and exercise to reduce the fat deposits. Luckily that fat in the liver responds quite well to diet, weight loss and exercise. The insulin resistance seems to also respond with the loss of excess fat in the liver.
Any overweight individual, pear -shaped or apple, who exhibits insulin and cholesterol issues, should be evaluated for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and treated.
Published On: December 07, 2008