Do 'Apples' Fare Worse Than 'Pears'?

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Science  29 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5368, pp. 1365
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5368.1365

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While some experts debate how risky it is to be overweight and just who should slim down (see main text), others insist that disease risk is based not only on how much fat you have but where you carry it: In their view, abdominal fat, as opposed to flab on the thighs and buttocks, increases the risk of such serious conditions as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. That's because abdominal fat cells quickly break down stored lipids and dump the resulting fatty acids into the bloodstream, which in turn could cause a dangerous rise in blood levels of the sugar glucose and triglyceride fats. But others argue that abdominal fat is secondary to the true problem, which leads to both disease and bulging bellies: excessive production of hormones that surge into the blood during stress.