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Different types of obesity explains why men lose weight faster than women

Updated on April 16, 2011

Different types of obesity:

Obesity can be classified as hypertrophic obesity and hyperplastic obesity based on this mechanism. An obese person with just increased size of fat cells (and not the number) is called hypertrophic, whereas, a person with increased fat cell size as well as number is called hyperplastic. Hypertrophic obesity is of recent origin and only the central parts of body viz., abdomen, hips etc. show fat deposition. Hyperplastic obesity is of long standing, fat depots of abdomen and hips are already lull and fat has reached peripheral fat depots like face, arm, calf, etc. Two patients identical in all other respects but one with hyperplastic and the other with hypertrophic obesity will respond to treatment in different ways. Prognosis will be good for patients with hypertrophic obesity. This means that obesity should be treated as soon as possible (before it progresses to hyperplastic type), and passage of time will make it increasingly difficult.

Male type obesity and Female type obesity

Another way to look at obesity that affects the outcome of the treatment is based on waist and hip measurements. When measurements of waist bigger than that of hips, it is called above the waist obesity, and when measurement of hips is bigger than that of waist, it is called below the waist obesity. Above the waist obesity is more common in men and therefore, it is also called male type obesity. The other type is more common in females and is called female type obesity. It is, of course, possible to find a male type in a female and vice-a-versa. In male type obesity, fat storage mainly occurs in depots inside the abdominal wall, and this type of fat distribution is found to expose the person to a greater risk of diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular problems compared to an identical counterpart but with female shaped fat distribution. Female and male hormones have been thought to play a role in this fat distribution. Presence of oestrogen, the female sex hormone invites fat to depots below the waist and also resists their release from fat calls during periods of caloric deficits (dieting). Whereas, testosterone, the male sex hormone is thought to take fat to abdominal fat depots and is happy to let that fat go from those fat cells during caloric deprivation. This partly explains why men lose weight faster compared to women and why the fat on hips in women is so resistant to dieting. After menopause, when oestrogen levels are low compared to testosterone levels, male type of obesity (fat accumulation above the waist) is seen in women.


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