A new study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation shows that children who tend to gain weight in their midsection - the apple shape - are at greater risk of developing heart problems than those who gain weight in their hips and legs - the pear shape.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that kids with chubbier midsections had higher blood pressure, higher levels of blood fat and triglycerides, lower levels of good cholesterol and a larger left ventricle - the part of the heart that does most of the pumping.
However, this doesn't mean that pear-shaped kids don't have to worry about developing heart disease. Total body fat and weight are still important risk factors. The results of the study show that the distribution of fat on young people is just as important as the total amount of fat when it comes to spotting the warning signs of heart disease, even in kids who are not necessarily overweight or obese.
While doctors do not yet understand whether the shape of a child's body can be changed, it's a signal that kids who have the apple shape may need to be monitored a little more closely.
Parents may start noticing whether their child is a pear or apple shape around adolescence. Adults who notice that their child is running into trouble with risk factors should consult their pediatrician to learn what lifestyle changes, if any, can be implemented early.
Written By Dr. Emily Senay