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Thigh Fat is Good Fat

If you are woman who is distressed by the fat in your thighs, think again. Dr. Anne B. Newman of the University of Pittsburgh found that thigh fat may be good fat (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, August 12, 2005). Older women with lots of fat in their thighs are at much lower risk for "metabolic syndrome," a condition associated with high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure that increases risk for diabetes and heart disease.

The fat stored in the abdomen and wrapped around organs is "bad fat" because the blood that flows from belly fat goes directly to your liver, whereas the blood that flows from your hips goes into your general circulation. The livers of those who store fat in their bellies are blocked from removing insulin by the extra fat and therefore do not remove insulin from the bloodstream as effectively as the livers of people who store fat primarily in their hips. People who store fat primarily in their bellies have higher blood insulin and sugar levels, which raise levels of the bad LDL cholesterol that causes heart attacks, and lower levels of the good HDL cholesterol that prevents heart attacks.

In post-menopausal women, heavy thighs and buttocks are associated with lower triglycerides, blood sugar and blood pressure. However, women who also stored lots of fat in their bellies lost much of their advantage.

We aren't sure how thigh fat helps to prevent disease. It may be a receptacle that draws triglycerides and other fats from the bloodstream or it may draw fat from the abdomen and around organs where it could be lethal. Sadly, there is no way to store fat only in the thighs. When you gain weight, you add fat everywhere. But it’s safer to look like a pear than an apple.

Checked 6/29/15

May 11th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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