Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  About  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms

Upper and Lower Body Gain Weight Differently

  • Published: 2010-10-04 (Revised/Updated 2013-06-03) : Mayo Clinic.
  • Synopsis: Accumulation of abdominal fat happens by individual cells expanding in size whereas fat gain in the femoral or lower body it is the number of fat cells that increase.

Main Document

Quote: "They were overfed for eight weeks, consuming giant candy bars, ice cream shakes, high-calorie drinks and almost anything else they wanted to eat."

Mayo Clinic finds upper, lower body gain weight differently - May explain why thigh fat is better.

Using ice cream, candy bars and energy drinks to help volunteers gain weight, Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered the mechanisms of how body fat grows. Increased abdominal fat seems to heighten risk for metabolic disease, while fat expansion in the lower body - as in the thighs - seems to lower the risk. The findings, appearing in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), help explain why.

"The cellular mechanisms are different," explains Michael Jensen, M.D., Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and lead author of the study. "The accumulation of abdominal fat happens largely by individual cells expanding in size, while with fat gain in the femoral or lower body, it's the number of fat cells that increases. So, different mechanism, different impact."

Researchers recruited 28 volunteers to the research study.

They were overfed for eight weeks, consuming giant candy bars, ice cream shakes, high-calorie drinks and almost anything else they wanted to eat. On average, participants put on 2.5 kilograms (kg) or 5.5 pounds (lbs) of upper body fat and 1.5 kg or 3.3 lbs of lower body fat. Even prior to fat gain, the preadipocytes (cells with the ability to become mature fat cells) in the upper body showed an increase in RNA messages which prompt proteins to synthesize fat.

Fifteen men and 13 women participated in the study.

Researchers measured body fat and fat cell size before and after the eight weeks of overeating. Researchers say their findings challenge the concept that the number of fat cells in the body remains stable in adults. It also supports the idea that increased capacity to produce lower-body fat cells creates some form of protection to the upper body and potentially helps prevent metabolic disease which can lead to diabetes and other complications.

Others on the study include first author Yourka Tchoukalova, Ph.D.; Susanne Votruba, Ph.D.; Tamar Tchkonia, Ph.D.; Nino Giorgadze; and James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D.; of Mayo Clinic. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, The Noaber Foundation and Mayo Clinic, including the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging.

Similar Topics

1 - Better to Be Shaped Like a Pear Than an Apple - Intermountain Medical Center.
2 - Belly Fat - Heart Failure Risk Increases With Waistline - Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
3 - Obesity Treatments: Ways to Lose Excess Weight - Thomas C. Weiss.
4 - The Health Risks of Obesity - Thomas C. Weiss.
5 - Obesity: Health Dangers of Being Overweight - Disabled World.
From our Weight Loss Information section - Full List (18 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.



1 - Hearing Charities of America's Hearing Aid Project Changing Lives with Donor's Help
2 - A More Complete Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Aggressive Prostate Cancer
3 - U.S. Mortality Rate Improvement Slowed by Rise in Obesity
4 - Delta Introduces Enhanced Requirements for Customers Traveling with Service or Support Animals



Citation


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.