A new study by researchers in Denmark has shown that, it is not the amount of fat that matters but the distribution of the fat that is important, when it comes to the heart health of women over 60. The study involved a group of 1,356 women aged between 60 and 85 whose body fat distribution and amount of atherosclerosis in the abdominal part of the aorta was measured. Atherosclerosis in the abdominal part of the aorta is an assessment of the degree of fatty build up in the arteries. The women were divided into four groups which consisted of lean women, women with low central fat and high peripheral fat, women with high central fat and low peripheral fat, and obese women with high levels of both kinds of fat. Central fat is carried around the abdomen while peripheral fat is found on the arms, legs, buttocks, and hips. Central fat has already been shown to be a health risk.
Researchers found that obese women had suprisingly less atherosclerosis than expected while women with high central fat and low peripheral fat had the most atherosclerosis, as well as high blood sugar and high cholesterol. Women with more peripheral and less central fat had the best blood sugar metabolism suggesting that peripheral fat had a protective role and behaved differently from central fat.