WEDNESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Differences in the way
body fat grows may explain why increased belly fat appears to boost
the risk for certain diseases while extra pounds on the thighs and
other parts of the lower body decrease the risk, a new study
The study included 28 volunteers who were allowed to eat almost
anything they wanted -- including ice cream, candy bars and
high-calorie drinks -- for eight weeks. On average, the
participants put on 5.5 pounds of upper body fat and 3.3 pounds of
lower body fat, Mayo Clinic researchers reported in this week's
online issue of the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The cellular mechanisms are different," lead author and endocrinologist Dr. Michael Jensen said in a Mayo news release. "The accumulation of abdominal fat happens largely by individual cells expanding in size, while with fat gain in the femoral or lower body, it's the number of fat cells that increases. So, different mechanism, different impact."
The findings challenge the idea that the number of fat cells
remain stable in adults, Jensen and colleagues pointed out in the
The results also added support to the theory that an increase in
production of lower-body fat cells may somehow help protect the
upper body, which in turn may help prevent what is known as
metabolic disease, the study authors noted.
A person can develop metabolic syndrome when a group of
conditions -- including high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol
levels, insulin resistance and extra body fat around the waist --
occur together, and increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes
and other conditions, according to information from the American
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
weight loss tips.