Assessing your shape: Are you an apple or a pear?

Studies tell us that our risk for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes is affected by the distribution of excess weight on our bodies.

Body weight

The risk for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes is affected by the distribution of excess weight on the body.

Where is your fat located? People who tend to gain weight in the abdominal area are said to have an ‘apple’ shape. If you tend to gain weight mostly in your hips, buttocks, and thighs, you are said to have a ‘pear’ shape.

Men and women carry fat in different areas of the body. In men, it is deposited mostly in the upper arms, shoulders and abdomen area; in women, fat is deposited mainly in the breasts, hips, buttocks and thighs.

For both sexes, however, health risks go up as waist size increases. A waist circumference measurement can indicate whether you carry excess weight around your middle.

If you are a woman, and your waist measures more than 35 inches, your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease is increased. If you are a man, your risks are also heightened with a waist measurement of 40 inches or more.

For the most part, being an ‘apple’ or a ‘pear’ is an inherited characteristic. However, smoking and drinking too many alcoholic beverages also seems to increase fat carried in the stomach area and as a result the risk of weight-related health problems is increased.

Control your health risks by not smoking, limiting alcohol (women no more than seven drinks per week, and men no more than nine drinks), exercising regularly and eating a healthy, low-fat diet.

To determine your waist circumference, measure your waist just above your hipbone. (Hint: relax and breathe out – don’t cinch in the tape measure or pull in your stomach.)

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