Scientists have revealed parts of our DNA which may play an important role in determining body shape.
A UK study in Nature Genetics has discovered the locations of 13 genes, which may influence whether our bodies are ‘pear-shaped’ or ‘apple-shaped’, with a stronger effect in women.
Where body fat builds up may be linked to diabetes and heart disease, and a spokesman from the British Heart Foundation said the findings could lead to new dietary advice and medicines.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation said: ‘We’ve known for some time that while fat anywhere in the body is not good for you, fat around the tummy increases your risk of heart disease and other illnesses more than fat around the bum.’
The study, led by researchers at Oxford University and the Medical Research Council, looked at the genetic codes of more than 77,000 people, studying genetic regions that could be linked to fat distribution.
The scientists located 13 regions where genes are found that control levels of insulin and cholesterol and are likely to point towards the underlying body mechanisms that control fat storage.
Dr Cecilia Lindgren, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford, said: ‘By finding genes that have an important role in influencing whether we are apple-shaped or pear-shaped, and the ways in which that differs between men and women, we hope to home in on the crucial underlying biological processes.
‘Understanding biology through finding genes is just a first step in a long journey towards treatment, but it is a vital one.’