• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Report: Thigh, buttocks fat may be beneficial

January 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
When it comes to the tummy versus the backside, where would you want the fat?"I can only imagine that anything close to your heart, like belly fat, is probably not the best thing," said Alysa Lobo.

We've heard belly fat is unhealthy, but now scientists say a bigger bottom half may offer a benefit.

In the International Journal of Obesity, a review of 35 years of research finds breaking down belly fat triggers the release of chemicals that cause inflammation, whereas metabolizing lower body fat does not have this risk.

Family medicine expert Dr. Katrina Miller says we know it's better to be apple than pear-shaped, but this study explains the difference with more clarity.

"What we're finding is that it's not just the distribution but the activity of the fat cells may actually be different," explained Miller.

According to the research in the review, fat around the tummy increases your risk for hypertension, heart disease and diabetes where as fat around your bottom protects you against those conditions.

"Thigh and buttocks fat actually have protective factors that are released from those particular cells," said Miller.

So if you tend to gain fat around your hindquarters, it may not be such a bad thing, but Miller says people with tummy fat can still change their shapes.

"What you can always do is lose weight to try to decrease where you have that fat. You can always lose weight to trim that down," advised Miller.

So pear-shaped ladies take heart; the fat around your bottom is pulling its weight.

"Being toned and feeling good about yourself and still exercising, but not to the point that my thighs are not stick thin like a supermodel, then it's okay," said Kali Judkins of South Pasadena.