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Which body shape is healthier pear or apple?

When it comes to body shapes, people often describe themselves as either pear-shaped or apple-shaped. A pear body shape is characterized by wider hips and narrower shoulders, creating a triangular silhouette. An apple body shape features broader shoulders and bust, with more weight carried around the stomach area, creating a rounder profile. But which of these two common body shapes is actually healthier? There are pros and cons to both.

Defining Pear and Apple Body Shapes

To better understand the health implications of different body shapes, let’s first define what exactly pear and apple shapes entail:

Pear Body Shape

– Weight is concentrated in the hips, rear, and thighs, creating a bottom-heavy silhouette.
– Waist is well-defined.
– Shoulders tend to be narrower than hips.
– Body fat distribution is primarily subcutaneous (underneath the skin).
– Overall appearance is triangular or spoon-shaped.

Apple Body Shape

– Weight is concentrated around the abdomen and chest.
– Waist is less defined, carrying more visceral (deep) body fat.
– Shoulders tend to be broader than hips.
– Arms are generally slimmer.
– Overall appearance is more rounded.

So in summary, pears carry more weight on their bottom half while apples carry it on their top half, especially around the belly. Now let’s explore how these different fat distributions can impact health.

The Impact of Body Fat Distribution

Perhaps the most significant health implications of body shape relate to where fat accumulates.

Pear Fat Distribution

Pears tend to store fat subcutaneously under the skin, especially around the buttocks and thighs. Subcutaneous fat acts as padding and insulation for the body. It only becomes problematic when overall body fat levels are very high. Having some subcutaneous fat is healthy, protecting organs and providing energy reserves.

Apple Fat Distribution

Apples tend to carry more visceral fat, which surrounds and infiltrates organs in the abdominal cavity. Visceral fat is more metabolically active, releasing hormones and compounds that can negatively impact health, even in modest amounts. Too much visceral fat increases inflammation, raises blood pressure, disrupts blood sugar regulation, and accumulates around the heart and liver. This is why measuring waist circumference is an important health benchmark.

Health Risks of Apple vs Pear Body Shapes

Given the differences in fat distribution, apples tend to be more prone to certain health conditions than pears:

Apple Health Risks

– Heart disease
– Type 2 diabetes
– High blood pressure
– High cholesterol
– Metabolic syndrome
– Fatty liver disease

The visceral fat around major organs sets the stage for metabolic abnormalities. Apples also tend to have more muscle mass, particularly in the upper body, which requires more energy and insulin regulation.

Pear Health Risks

– Lower body injuries
– Varicose veins
– Cellulite

The main health implications for pears stem from carrying more weight on the lower body. Impact on the legs and knees can lead to problems like arthritis over time. Enlarged thighs can also impede blood circulation, resulting in varicose veins and cellulite. However, these are cosmetic concerns rather than life-threatening conditions.

Body Shape and Mortality

Some research has investigated whether carrying extra weight on the bottom or midsection impacts longevity and mortality risk.

Study Findings

– In an obesity study, pear-shaped women had lower cardiovascular mortality than apple-shaped women.
– A study of over 2,000 adults found pears had lower metabolic risk than apples of equal BMI.
– One analysis found waist-to-hip ratio was more strongly correlated with cardiovascular events than BMI.
– A study of over 100,000 people found apples had the highest mortality rate, while pears had the lowest.

So evidence suggests pears may have a longevity advantage over apples when matched for BMI or weight. The concentration of fat around the abdomen seems to impart greater health risks.

Other Health Factors Beyond Body Shape

While fat distribution plays a role, other factors beyond basic body shape impact health as well.

Lifestyle Factors

A person’s diet, exercise, smoking habits, and other lifestyle factors are extremely important for health, regardless of body shape. An active pear-shape who eats well is likely much healthier than a sedentary apple-shape with a poor diet.

Genetic Contributions

Genetics account for 50-70% of what determines body shape and propensity to store fat in certain areas. So apple-shapes are somewhat predetermined to carry more abdominal fat.

Gender Differences

Due to hormonal differences, women are more likely to be pear-shaped, while men tend toward an apple shape. This contributes to variations in health risks between genders.

Weight Changes

Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight can change an individual’s body shape and health implications. So current shape may not always reflect future risk.

Tips for Managing Health Based on Body Type

Here are some tips tailored to each body shape:

For Pears

– Maintain a healthy body weight to avoid putting excessive strain on knees and lower body joints.
– Stay active with weight-bearing and cardiovascular exercise to promote lower body strength and heart health.
– Follow a nutrient-rich diet to nourish the body and avoid deficiencies.
– Include strength training to build muscle and speed up metabolism.
– Avoid sitting for long periods to prevent circulatory issues.

For Apples

– Monitor waist circumference and aim to keep it under 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.
– Do regular core-strengthening exercises to tone abdominal area and avoid visceral fat buildup.
– Follow a low-glycemic diet to help regulate blood sugar and insulin.
– Prioritize steady, moderate cardio over high intensity intervals which may trigger fat storage.
– Manage stress levels since cortisol promotes visceral fat.

The Bottom Line on Body Shape and Health

While apple and pear body shapes have distinct health implications, there are steps people of both shapes can take to stay healthy:

– Exercise regularly through a mix of cardio and strength training.
– Follow a nutritious diet focused on whole, minimally processed foods.
– Keep refined sugar and saturated fats to a minimum.
– Manage stress through yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques.
– Get enough sleep and watch alcohol intake.
– Stay hydrated and keep body weight within a healthy range.
– Don’t smoke.

Making positive lifestyle choices can largely overcome any potential risks of a predisposition to carry weight in a certain area. Monitoring new or worsening symptoms and getting regular checkups is also wise.

Ultimately, being an apple or a pear shape alone does not determine someone’s health destiny. Paying attention to emerging health issues and adopting habits to counteract them can help mitigate risks associated with body fat distribution. With diligence and proactive care, apples and pears alike can achieve wellness.


Manolopoulos, K. N., Karpe, F., & Frayn, K. N. (2010). Gluteofemoral body fat as a determinant of metabolic health. International journal of obesity, 34(6), 949-959.

Janssen, I., Katzmarzyk, P. T., & Ross, R. (2004). Waist circumference and not body mass index explains obesity-related health risk. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 79(3), 379-384.

Song, Y. M., Sung, J., & Davey Smith, G. (2003). Which obesity indicator is better predictor of metabolic syndrome?: Body mass index, waist circumference, waist hip ratio, or waist height ratio?. Clinical nutrition, 22(3), 403.

Czernichow, S., Kengne, A. P., Stamatakis, E., Hamer, M., & Batty, G. D. (2011). Body mass index, waist circumference and waist-hip ratio: which is the better discriminator of cardiovascular disease mortality risk? Evidence from an individual-participant meta-analysis of 82 864 participants from nine cohort studies. Obesity reviews, 12(9), 680-687.

Canoy, D. (2008). Distribution of body fat and risk of coronary heart disease in men and women. Current opinion in cardiology, 23(6), 591-598.

Seidell, J. C. (2010). Waist circumference and waist/hip ratio in relation to all-cause mortality, cancer and sleep apnea. European journal of clinical nutrition, 64(1), 35-41.


In summary, research suggests that pear body shapes tend to be healthier than apple shapes overall, thanks to differences in fat distribution and associated risks. But there are steps people of both shapes can take through lifestyle, diet, exercise and preventative care to overcome disadvantages they may face. Maintaining a healthy weight while staying active and eating well provides protection against potential risks linked to body fat placement.