Friday, March 11, 2011

The Apple/Pear Debate is Reignited!

If you’ve been told for years that your pudgy mid-section is putting your heart at risk, you may want to hear the findings of a new study by UK researchers from the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration. Although the “pear shape” (which refers to fat distribution predominantly around the hip and thigh area) has long been touted as the healthier form, that is no longer the general consensus.

Prior beliefs seemed to rest on the idea that visceral fat surrounding the organs was more likely to have detrimental effects on the body’s systems as a whole when compared to fat located around the hips and rear. One attention-getting survey claimed that those with high levels of abdominal fat (sporting the “beer-belly” look) were three times more likely to suffer from heart disease than those with an identical amount of fat located below the waist. The emerging evidence however, suggests that apple-figures do not suffer from this significantly increased risk, as previously thought.

Interestingly enough, this data comes on the heels of a study suggesting a new definition of “normal” blood pressure. Like the apple shape, blood pressure readings greater than 120/80 mm/Hg are no longer being condemned as unhealthy or necessarily at-risk. A study published by The Journal of General Internal Medicine found that people who fell into the “pre-hypertension category” were not any more likely to die prematurely than those with lower blood pressures.

Clearly there are conflicting ideas at play, both in terms of blood pressure standards and body composition factors. In the end, it is important to look at these individual measurements within the grand scheme of overall biometrics to get the full picture of an individual’s health.

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