Comparing Apples to Pears

Comparing Apples to Pears

Even if their body mass index (BMI) is normal, “apple-shaped” postmenopausal women face a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) than women who are “pear-shaped”, according to research described today in the European Heart Journal and led by Qibin Qi, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology & population health at Einstein. In fact, Dr. Qi and his colleagues found that being pear-shaped (i.e., storing a greater proportion of body fat in the legs) was linked to a significantly decreased risk of CVD compared with women who stored the least fat in their legs.

Qibin Qi, Ph.D.

Qibin Qi, Ph.D.

The study—the first to look at where fat is stored in the body and its association with CVD risk in normal weight postmenopausal women—involved 2,683 women with normal BMI (18.5 to 25 kg/m2). They were part of the Women’s Health Initiative, did not have CVD at the beginning of the study, and were followed for a median 18 years, during which 291 CVD cases occurred. Women in the top 25% of those who stored the most fat around their middle or trunk (apple-shaped) had nearly double the risk of heart problems and stroke when compared to the 25% of women with the least fat stored around their middle. The highest risk of CVD occurred in women who had the highest percentage of fat around their middle and the lowest percentage of leg fat: They had a more than three-fold increased risk compared to women at the opposite extreme, those with the least body fat and the most leg fat.

Read the full release issued by the European Heart Journal.