Current Events

Is butt fat really better fat??

Well if you listened to the news this morning, you undoubtedly heard the headlines that gluteofemoral fat (bun and thigh fat) are “beneficial” for your health.  Obviously when I heard that, I knew I had to dig into the article to get the details.  Well, not as easy as I thought.  Unless you have a membership (paid) to specific distribution sites, you can’t get the full text…you can only get the abstract.  For those of you not acquainted with medical research, the abstract is basically a one or two paragraph summary of the article.  In most cases it serves as a prolonged headline to grab your attention and make you want to read the rest of the article. 

Manolopoulos and his colleagues make a few interesting observations that gluteal and thigh fat produce two specific hormones (Leptin, and Adiponectin) that help us metabolize sugar and fat more appropriately, and belly fat does just the opposite. 

What is unclear from the abstract is what he used for comparison.  Let me explain, he seems to compare gluteofemoral (GF) fat to abdominal fat more than once, but then makes comments about increases in GF fat being beneficial without reference to a comparison.  Did they compare people with the same percentage of body fat, just deposited in different locations on the body, or did they compare an individual with normal percentage of body fat, to one with a higher percentage of body fat – but it was GF fat that increased?   It’s one thing to claim that if you have increased body fat, it’s healthier if it’s GF fat…but an entirely different claim to say that for a healthy lean individual, increasing GF fat is healthier. 

In another statement in the abstract, he mentions that decreasing the GF fat “is associated with an increased metabolic and cardiovascular risk”, but when you read carefully, he states “loss of gluteofemoral fat, as observed in Cushing’s syndrome…”.  Now for those of you not familiar with Cushing’s syndrome… one of the hallmarks of the syndrome is a dramatic increase in abdominal fat.  So is he comparing a large deposit of GF fat to no large deposit of fat at all…or is he comparing a large deposit of GF fat to a large deposit of abdominal fat?  From the abstract, sadly, we just can’t tell. 

If I manage to get access to the full text article, I’ll post a follow-up, but for now…the questions will remain unanswered….

Here’s the abstract if you’re interested:

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ijo2009286a.html

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