Where Will You Store Your Fat? Researchers May Have Found A Clue
For years, we've been conditioned to believe shedding pounds was a result of simply eating a little less and working out a little more, but as new research has proved time and time again, there is so much more to maintaining a healthy weight than calorie restriction or crazy-intense workout classes.
In a study released Monday, however, researchers identified one of the most important power players in how we store fat: our genes. By examining over 360,000 people and over a million different genetic factors, researchers identified about 100 different specific genes that all control whether or not those extra pounds will go to your belly or your butt.
The study also highlighted just how different fat storage is when it comes to men and women—for women, genes are more likely to make you store excess weight around your hips and thighs. For men, their problem area is most likely to be their belly. While both men and women are affected by their personalized fat-storage genes, many of these genes have a much stronger overall effect on women, the researchers noted.
Excess fat storage around the abdomen can spell serious trouble when it comes to heart health, making the implications of this study so important for men at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have also linked excess belly fat with diabetes and hypertension1.
With research like this, you may feel like the fate of your fat is written in the stars. In one aspect, it is, but we should view this finding as an opportunity to work on banishing all of the stress and self-deprecation that can often come with trying to shed a few pounds.
On the other hand, this research reminds us how important it is to be proactive. With the popularity of personalized genetic testing in recent years, it has become easier and easier for you to learn more about your genome early on, leading to better understanding of your own health risks and plan for the future.
Elizabeth Gerson is a former mindbodygreen intern and a student at Stanford University studying Psychology and Communication with a specialization in Health & Development. She has also written for SFGate.com and The Stanford Daily and runs a paleo(ish) food Instagram, @healthy_lizard.