A woman consulting with me on diet issues reported this response to her husband when he started hinting that she was getting a bit too ample in the derriere. Pointing to his belly fat, she predicted that he had more of a chance of dying from his weight problem than she.
Too bad, so sad. Unfortunately men, this does appear to be accurate. Weight in the middle tends to put pressure on the inner organs, as we heard yesterday on the Today Show from the editor of Men's Health, who is out with a book on getting rid of Belly Fat.
Despite the fact that men and women seem to struggle with weight in fairly equal numbers as adults, women do tend to put weight on in their butts, vs. their stomachs. (Of course there are body types where this is not the case.)
Hormones play a big role here, (surprise, surprise!) since we women tend to hold onto weight where we store estrogen: in our butts, hips, thighs, upper arms, and yes, of course, our stomachs. One of the quickest ways to redress this issue as adults, is to decrease alcohol, which makes our bodies hold onto 'puff' in those areas. Ever notice that if you are drinking regularly when you take some breaks and eat the same amount, you lose weight? Other tip: since we women already have generally more muscle mass in our legs, hips and thighs; designed for carrying kids around, do pushups! You want to increase the muscle mass and therefore metabolism, in your upper body!
But as I am talking here of female vs. male differences in weight gain, you can think about yourself as a preteen, or if you have kids, of your teenagers.
Since my work tends to be focused on kids and eating problem prevention, I am often consulting with parents of girls around age 8-12. This is a time when nutritionists tell me they tend to get the most referrals: from anxious parents who worry about the 'puffiness' or chunkiness that can appear in formerly thin girls.
Guys on the other hand, are building muscle mass, another fat burner, and want to chunk out. They have a way better shot at the fat turning into muscle with their hormones and biological predisposition toward developing more muscle mass during puberty. Hence, the trend toward girls beginning to diet, starting around middle and high school, and guys eating their parents out of house and home.
Having three girls myself, I too, have been hit with the complaints as my daughters hit puberty and put on weight where they are storing estrogen. I do my thing, warn them to stay away from dieting, and not to deprive themselves too much, but to eat consciously and in a balanced way, most of the time. They are going to be dealing with body and weight for the rest of their lives, as most women do, and I want to de-emphasize one particular moment in their growing period, and focus more on the eating habits that they have, which to me, have to include enjoying 'pigging out' with friends on candy. What can I say, I think that is an important bonding ritual. Obviously needs to be balanced.
But if you are a parent out there of a preteen and are worrying about the changes in your daughter's body, try to focus more on their eating behaviors, and don't let them diet. This can start a pattern of on-off eating, that can create more eating problems than if you wait out this period and see what happens as they are further into their teens, after their period starts.
And remind them: "No one ever died of a big butt!"
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