Body fat: why it's different for girls
Fat men do more damage to their health than fat women, Dutch research has now confirmed.
In the study of 22 men and 34 women who were severely overweight (BMI of 40), the men had less stamina and were less able to process carbohydrates - just the sort of problems that can cause diabetes.
Problems tolerating carbohydrates are also an early sign of metabolic syndrome - a group of medical conditions that can lead to heart disease. Overall, 59% of the men had diabetes or were carbohydrate intolerant compared to 35% of the women.
The women also performed better on exercise endurance and had better lung function than the men.
The researchers told the BBC that their findings might be explained by the different distribution of body fat in men, who store it in the upper body, compared to women, who store it lower down on their hips and bottom.
Co-author Dr Dave Schweitzer said: 'It is possible that women are better equipped for energy storage due to their inherent need to feed their offspring.
'When food is abundant, such as in modern society, both genders may become obese, but men simply do not have the reserve capacity to handle excess food, which puts extra stress on their bodies, causing decreased performance and, possibly, illness.'
It is never too late to start eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking part in regular physical activity.
Page created on July 18th, 2005
Page updated on December 1st, 2009