The presence of a protein may help explain why some people are apple shaped and others pear shaped. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have pinpointed a protein that plays a part in how fat is stored in the body, potentially opening better ways to treat obesity.
Levels of the protein, known as 11BetaHSD1, tend to be higher in the presence of an unhealthy type of body fat which tends to be stored around the torso, typical of "apple shapes", the journal Diabetes reports.
Healthier fat, linked to lower levels of the protein, tends to be stored around the hips and is used more safely by the body as a source of energy, typical of people who are "pear shaped", according to an Edinburgh statement.
The study found that mice with the protein in their bodies were more likely to have unhealthy fat tissue after four weeks on a high fat diet, compared with mice without the protein.
Scientists are already looking at ways to make medicines that inhibit this protein, which is known to raise levels of hormones linked to obesity.
Nik Morton, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cardiovascular Science, said: "This study opens up new avenues for research, and gives us a much better idea of why some fat in the body becomes unhealthy while other fat is safely stored for energy."