Most of us have an area of our body that just seems to attract excess fat every time we gain a few pounds. And sadly, it never seems to be our boobs, where we'd probably quite like it to go.
But the New York Post recently looked into which areas of the body are the most dangerous places to carry fat, and found that one in particular can prove problematic for our general health. Speaking to Susan K. Fried, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who specialises in bodily fat storage, the NYP discovered that fat carried on around your stomach area is actually the most concerning.
Fried explains that excess weight around the midsection of your body is usually what's called visceral fat, which gathers around the body's organs. This differs to subcutaneous fat—the less worrying kind—which lies just under the skin.
The fact that fat on the belly tends to be visceral, says another expert the NYP spoke to—Dr. Kristen Gill Hairston, medical director of the Diabetes and Endocrinology Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center—means it can "increase inflammation in the body, leading to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol."
Not all fat around the abdomen is visceral, however. And Fried explains you can work out whether it's visceral or subcutaneous quite easily, simply by lying down. "If you lie on your back, and your fat doesn't stick up, it's probably just under the skin," she explains. "If it sort of sticks up and looks like you're pregnant, then it's likely visceral."
Fried also has some good news about fat: the stuff located around the thighs and bum is much less worrying. In fact, it can often be a good thing. "If you carry fat in your butt or in your thighs, that is actually associated with better health, lower risk of cardiac disease or diabetes," she says.
"Women should be happy about fat on their thighs, it keeps them healthy!" she adds.
Take that, thigh gap.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.