Genes play a huge role in determining where in your body fat is stored, according to a new study. Researchers say women are particularly impacted by this.
"We know that women and men tend to store fat differently - women have the ability to more easily store fat on the hips and legs, while men tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen to a higher extent," lead author Mathias Rask-Andersen from Uppsala University in Sweden, told a new portal. Adding, "This has been attributed to the effects of sex hormones such as estrogen. But the molecular mechanisms that control this phenomenon are fairly unknown."
To investigate,the team measured how fat was distributed in close to 360,000 voluntary participants. Blood samples were taken for genotyping. Researchers used impedance measurements to estimate how fat tissues are distributed. To understand the association with the distribution of fat to the arms, legs or trunk, the team tested millions of genetic variants. Through this process, researchers were able to identify close to a hundred genes that affect the distribution of adipose tissue to different areas of the body.
Remodelling of the extracellular matrix could be one of the factors that produce differences in body fat distribution, according to the findings. Previous research has found the risk of developing diseases is high for people whose fat is stored in the trunk. Men particularly have a higher amount of abdominal fat than women. Therefore, the risk of cardiovascular disease is higher for males.
Researchers believe their findings can help lead to the development of better interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. "The biological systems we highlight in our study have the potential to be used as points-of-intervention for new drugs that are aimed at improving the distribution of body fat and thereby reducing the risk of disease," Mathias Rask-Andersen told a news portal.