Body Shape - Types and
Different Body Types: Apple Shape, Pear Shape, Ectomorph, Mesomorph & Endomorph
Why Body Shape is Important
We all know that being overweight, obese or carrying excess body fat is bad for our health. But total body fat is not the only health risk - body fat distribution is also significant. This is why body shape is important.
Body Shapes & Types
As far as fat distribution is concerned, there are two basic body shapes - "apples" and "pears". Apple-shaped people carry most of their excess body fat around their middle (abdomen), while pear-shapes carry most of their excess body weight on their hips and thighs.
Apple Shape Body Type
Apple-shaped people store body fat around the abdomen and chest, surrounding internal organs, such as the heart. For this reason, apple shapes have a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and gall bladder disease. That said, "Apples" have an easier time losing excessive fat that has settled in the midsection - which helps to reduce their increased health risk.
Pear Shape Body Type
Pear-shaped people have hips wider than their shoulders because their bodies store fat there and on the thighs. Pear-shapes carry their extra weight below the waistline, and do not seem to have as high a risk of developing the above conditions as "apples" do. Pear shape people usually lose fat in the upper body, so their overall shape doesn't change much when they lose weight.
Apple Body Shape vs. Pear Body Shape Summary
When you compare an apple to a pear shape with a similar body weight, the risk for disease is much greater in the apple. But when apples lose weight, they reduce fat in the upper body, look different and reduce their risk of disease.
Body Shape and Weight Control
When Apples lose weight, they do reduce the fat in the upper body, so they look different (and reduce their risk of disease). Pears also tend to lose fat in the upper body, so even when they lose weight their overall shape does not change much. Pear shapes tend to find it difficult to lose fat from their main fat stores on the lower half of their body.
Are You an Apple or Pear Shape - Measure Your Waist-Hip Ratio
Use the Waist-to-Hip Ratio to see if you're a stick, a pear or an apple. The Waist-Hip Ratio is a measure of trunk fatness. It is a good indicator of weight as a risk factor for diseases such as heart disease. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is another measure for assessing overall weight and risk to health. The BMI measures total weight in relation to height.
Body Shape - Health Risks - Some Research Findings of Fat Distribution
Intra-Abdominal Fat (IAF - Central Fat Distribution)
In some body fat studies, intra-abdominal fat (IAF) has been even more closely associated with Type 2 Diabetes (Non-insulin Dependent Diabetes - NIDD) than overall weight, and is closely associated with insulin resistance. IAF is also associated with increased risk of hormonal cancers (e.g. breast cancer), ovulatory dysfunction and sleep apnea.
Body Shape - Health Risks - Summary
Body Shape - New DEXA Fat Distribution Measuring Technique
The relationship between body shape and cardiovascular risk factors has not been extensively studied in people, especially young people. Now a new way of measuring body fat distribution made such a study feasible.
Body Shape - Another Classification of Body Types
Another method used to classify body shape, called somatotyping, rates a person's body on three factors: ectomorphy (slenderness), endomorphy (fatness) and mesomorphy (muscularity).
The three main types of body shapes under
this classification are:
Ectomorph Body Shape
A person with this type of body shape is generally tall and thin with long arms and legs. These people have difficulty gaining weight and muscle no matter how much they eat or how hard they weight train.
They have the body type you tend to see in ballet dancers, runway models, long-distance runners, and some basketball players. A very small proportion of the population has this type of body.
Mesomorph Body Shape
A person with this type of body shape has a higher muscle-to-fat ratio than most and is generally shorter with stocky arms and legs. These people are strong and tend to gain muscle mass when they do strength training. They may find it difficult to lose weight, but they excel in power sports like soccer, softball, vaulting in gymnastics, sprinting events in track and field.
Endomorph Body Shape
A person with this type of body shape is generally shaped like apples or pears with a higher than average body-fat-percentage. Their bodies resist losing weight and body fat no matter how restrictive they are with their eating. In fact, the more they diet, the more their metabolisms slow down to resist weight loss. These people are better able to handle long periods of starvation and famine (which was a benefit to our ancestors). Sports they excel at are distance swimming, field events, and weight lifting.
If you dont think you fit into any of these, dont worry. Most of us are a combination of these body shapes. The important thing to know is that there are many body shapes/types, and all of these types are normal.
Sources include: Health Canada. UK National Health Service.
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