An apple may be good for you, but an apple figure with excess weight in the middle isn’t. The risk for heart disease goes up two and a half times for men with diabetes and the apple figure and rises eightfold for women with diabetes and this shape.
Besides inherited genes, controllable lifestyle factors have been shown to contribute to excess fat deposits in the middle. These include alcohol, smoking, stress, lack of exercise, and excess fat or simple sugars in the diet.
Why is the apple figure risky? Fat cells located in the abdomen release fat into the blood more easily than fat cells found elsewhere. The release of fat begins 3 to 4 hours after the last meal compared to many more hours for other fat cells. This easy release shows up as higher triglyceride (TG) and free fatty acid levels. Free fatty acids themselves cause insulin resistance.
One out of every four people in the U.S., or 80 million Americans, have insulin resistance and they are more prone to heart disease, even though they never actually develop diabetes. Excess cardiac risks found with an apple figure include higher TG levels, lower HDL (protective cholesterol), higher blood pressure, diabetes (Type 2r), and kidney disease. Often there is a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or cholesterol problems.
Researchers at UCSF and ECU have isolated a protein, called PC-1, which may play a central role in causing insulin resistance.
Do You Have An Apple Figure?
To find out whether you have an apple figure, determine your waist-to-hip ratio. With a tape measure, measure around your waist an inch above the navel. Then measure your hips at their widest point. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
A ratio of over 0.8 for women or over 1.0 for men suggests an unhealthy accumulation of fat in the middle.
What To Do
If you’ve got an apple figure, the following actions improve insulin sensitivity and are very important in preventing health problems:
- eat less fat and fewer total calories, (less food, longer life)
- keep blood sugars normal, (lowers TG levels)
- drink little or no alcohol, (less abd. fat, lower TGs)
- exercise regularly, (more muscle, less fat)
- don’t smoke, and
- reduce stress.