The Latest Skinny!
To determine the effect of overeating on fat distribution, 28 healthy adults were fed for eight weeks with a very high calorie diet, including all-you-can-eat ice cream shakes and king sized candy bars (don’t even think about it!). Participants gained an average of ten pounds of fat, distributed equally between the upper and lower body. Fat wasn’t stored in the same way, however. Abdominal fat cells expanded their fat storage capacity by storing 40% more fat in each cell. The cells didn’t increase in number. Thigh fat cells did not increase in size but their number expanded by 23%. The researchers concluded that abdominal fat reacts differently to a calorie load than fat in other parts of the body.
Dr. Blackshear’s Comment:
This study is interesting in that it demonstrates what may be an inborn protective mechanism. We know that abdominal fat cells are particularly toxic to the body, producing a large number of hormone-like substances which affect an enormous variety of bodily functions, usually in an adverse way. Storing new fat by expanding the fat cells’ capacity, and not their number, may represent the body’s attempt to dampen the adverse metabolic impact of more abdominal fat cells. Since thigh cells aren’t as active metabolically, growing in number doesn’t carry such serious consequences.