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Fat storage patterns in Men and Women

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On an average, an adult female has 10-12% more fat than an adult male and there’s a clear distinction in the fat storage patterns.

HOW THE PATTERNS DIFFER Men tend to store more visceral fat in the intra-abdominal cavity (android obesity) whereas women store more subcutaneous fat near gluteal/femoral depot, i.e. around their hip region (gynoid obesity) [1]. This type of fat distribution is commonly referred to as apple and pear shapes. REASONS This can be attributed to the difference in their hormones: higher testosterone/cortisol in men and Estrogen/progesterone in women [2]. Higher testosterone levels tend to promote visceral fat accumulation whereas higher Estrogen level promotes higher subcutaneous fat deposits. EFFECTS This visceral fat in men is found to be linked with the greater risk of insulin-resistance related states, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc [3]. This is why women are at a much lower risk of heart-related diseases until after menopause, after which the hormone level changes leading to changes in the fat distribution as well. OTHER FACTORS The other important contributing factor to a female’s body fat distribution could be sexual selection and attraction, providing curves and other feminine characteristics. References: Kvist H, Chowdhury B, Grangard U, et al. Total and visceral adipose-tissue volumes derived from measurements with computed tomography in adult men and women: predictive equations. Am J Clin Nutr 1988; 48: 1351-61. Krotkiewski M, Bjorntorp P, Sjostrom L, et al. Impact of obesity on metabolism in men and women. Importance of regional adipose tissue distribution. J Clin Invest 1983; 72: 1150-62. Lemieux S, Després JP, Moorjani S, et al. Are gender differences in cardiovascular disease risk factors explained by the level of visceral adipose tissue? Diabetologia 1994; 37: 757-64.
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