Ever wondered why some women, but not all, have the "pear" shape considered by many to be desirable? Researchers might have found some answers to the mystery, after discovering that estrogen, one of the sex hormones, affects where fat is stored in a woman's body.
The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, involved 17 premenopausal women between the ages of 18 and 44 who were overweight or obese.
Researchers from East Carolina University asked the women to provide certain information, including:
- Fat percentage
- Lean body mass
- VO2 max (a measure of physical fitness).
This was done by slowly infusing estrogen into the buttocks and belly of the women overnight. The women were then given drugs that encouraged the burning of fat in the body (lipolysis). They were also asked to exercise at a level similar to a standard exercise session, both with and without the lipolysis drugs.
Fat breakdown was measured using microdialysis - a sampling technique that looks for the amount of glycerol left behind after the breakdown of fat for eventual energy production.