Having more fat on legs compared with the stomach protects postmenopausal women from heart disease, a study says.
Women of a healthy weight with the highest risk of stroke or heart disease had the most belly fat and the least hip and thigh fat, the European Heart Journal research found.
The scientists said “apple-shaped” women should try to lose belly fat and become more “pear-shaped”.
The research followed 2,600 women who were a healthy weight – with a body mass index (BMI) of between 18 and 25 – over 18 years.
They were all taking part in a major US study, the Women’s Health Initiative, which began in the mid-1990s, and had regular scans to check fat, muscle and bone density.
The study found “apple-shaped” women, with more fat around the belly, had a more than threefold increased cardiovascular disease risk compared with those who were “pear-shaped”, with fat around the hips and thighs.