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What links seasons to body shapes?

If you thought that with the changing seasons just the trees shed their leaves and looked different, think again.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 20:21 IST

If you thought that with the changing seasons just the trees shed their leaves and looked different, think again, as seasonal changes cause fat to shift locations in our body, thus altering the shape of our figures at certain times of the year, according to a new study.

Varying testosterone levels drive the shape changes, the study suggests.

The hormone, often associated with brawn and aggressiveness, fluctuates over the seasons in both men and women.

The most evident changes occur within the waist and hip region, the study determined. When testosterone levels rose, women became less curvy as fat shifted toward the waist.

Other research has determined that the opposite happens in men, who retain more fat in the abdominal region when testosterone levels fall.

"We found that women’s and men’s testosterone is highest in the fall," said Sari van Anders, who led the research. "As well, women’s waist-to-hip ratio (how big the waist is relative to the hips) is highest during the fall, and central measures of fat deposition, like abdominal fat, were also somewhat higher in the fall (for women)."

Van Anders, a doctoral candidate in behavioral neuroendocrinology at Simon Fraser University in Canada, added, "This suggests that patterns of fat deposition, but not overall fat, are slightly different depending on the season, with more fat being deposited in the central waist region in the fall (in women)."

The study suggests women look more curvaceous in winter and spring. Men, explained Van Anders, look manlier during spring since waist and hip size becomes more uniform and less feminine.