LIVING

Belly Fat And Thigh Fat: What's The Difference Between These Two Types Of Fat?

01/11/2013 03:30 EST | Updated 01/11/2013 03:30 EST
Shutterstock

Wouldn't it be great if fat only went the places we wanted it to go? But in reality, as we well know, squishy fat usually ends up settling in our bellies and thighs.

Not only are these two areas some of the toughest spots to lose weight, but as a recent study published in the 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism,' found, belly and thigh fat actually differ genetically.

“Even though many women hate having large hips and thighs, that pear shape actually reduces their risk of heart disease and diabetes. In fact, women who have heart attacks tend to have more belly fat than thigh fat," said Dr. Steven Smith, director of the Florida Hospital — Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes.

So jiggly thighs may be a good thing after all — as long as we're aware of our abdominal fat. Besides increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, researchers added that belly fat in particular was linked to an increased risk of obesity.

To test their theory, Smith and his team took fat samples from both men and women, and compared active genes (genes that program fat cells to react with hormones) in both types of fat. Turns out for both sexes, genes in their bellies were more "active."

A 2012 study from the Mayo Clinic found central abdominal fat, and love handles in particular, were two of the most dangerous hot spots for fat, according to Shape Magazine. Being a normal weight but having excessive belly fat was worse health-wise than just being qualified as obese.

But belly fat is also complex in itself. That squishy type you can hold in your hand is not as dangerous as visceral fat, for example, a type of fat that grows around your organs, which can put you at a higher risk of health-related illnesses.

Cutting down on these bad types of fat starts with your plate. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and lean clean proteins, and avoid eating excessive sugars, salts and unhealthy fats.

ALSO: Here are 10 exercises to lose belly fat:

10 Exercises To Lose Love Handles