Are you an apple? Banana or pear shaped? Research suggests that your body type could impact everything from binge eating to cancer risk
Are you an apple? A pear? A banana? Chances are, you know what we're talking about—and it isn't what we're having for a snack. Labeling our body shape by fruit is more than just a weird obsession with produce. Doing so could help us choose the most flattering swimsuit, find the most effective workout to sculpt your signature curves, and—according to a new pair of studies—help improve your health.
How? Well, the idea of "shape" all comes down to where you store your fat. Apple shapes tend to store fat in their upper body, particularly around their midsection. Pears are all about that bass, storing fat in their hips, butt, and thighs. Bananas have their fat equally distributed over their body. And knowing your particular pattern of fat storage can help you understand which problems you're at risk for—and which ones you can put on the back burner—particularly when it comes to how you eat.
Possible health issues: Apple body types may be prone to binge eating, according to a study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers found that ladies who stored the most fat around their waist also tended to have the most incidences of "loss-of-control eating" where they binged on junk food. This also appeared to turn into something of a vicious cycle: The more the women binged, the more fat they stored around their waists, and the more they felt like bingeing. (Find out The Weird Science Behind Your Food Cravings.)
What to do: While this obviously isn't great news, the researchers pointed out that knowing you're vulnerable to binge eating can help you control it before it becomes a serious problem. Our experts recommend keeping triggering foods out of the house, keeping a food journal so you can see patterns in your eating, and choosing to eat healthy food before treats. Plus, it's just more evidence that bouts of out-of-control eating are sometimes biologically-based and not just about weak willpower.
Possible health issues: Women with a pear body type may be more at risk for metabolic syndrome, says a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. While previous studies have shown that fat stored in the hips, butt, and thighs is protective, these researchers found that fat in the buttock area increases the levels of chemerin and omentin-1, proteins that can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance. "We've dispelled the myth that [butt and hip] fat is 'innocent'," noted lead researcher Ishwarlal Jialal, Ph.D., a professor at UC Davis. (No word on if she talked to Shakira first.)
What to do: While no one is knocking the beauty of a big booty, the study concludes that if you tend to carry your weight in your posterior, you should take extra precautions to maintain a healthy blood sugar. Cutting out processed sweets and junk food and getting plenty of exercise can help.
Possible health issues: As for banana or string bean types, a third study from earlier this year found that swapping out healthy produce for junk food increased cancer and diabetes risk even if the person eating didn't gain weight anywhere. So while that particular body type didn't increase the risk of disease, it didn't protect against it either, blasting the myth that as long as you're skinny, you're healthy.
What to do: For this reason, banana types should eat a healthy, balanced diet—even (and especially) if you don't notice any side effects from eating not-so-good-for-you foods. (P.S. This is The Best Diet Plan for Lasting Weight Loss.)