A new study published at the weekend reports the findings of a large scale genetic study that identifies 13 new genes associated with body fat distribution, seven of which appear to have stronger effects in women than in men.

Corresponding author Dr Cecilia Lindgren, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University in the UK, and her co-authors are members of an international consortium comprising 400 scientists from 280 research institutions worldwide; their paper appears in the 10 October online issue of Nature Genetics.

We already know from previous studies that fat stored in the abdomen (the "apple" shape) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, even after adjusting for obesity, whereas fat stored in the hips, thighs and buttocks (the "pear" shape) may actually protect against these diseases.

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