Having some fat on your body is essential for proper body function and to serve as protection of your vital organs. It’s also where your body stores some vitamins. Where your body distributes your excess fat partly depends on your sex. Men have a tendency to store fat in their stomach, which is significant because having too much fat in the stomach increases the risk for serious health conditions. Women store fat elsewhere until they get beyond childbearing age.
Difference between Males and Females
Men and women store fat in different places. Women most often store their fat at their hips and thighs so they’re better equipped to protect a developing fetus. This storage is due to an expansion of fat cell size in the pelvis, buttocks and thighs that begins to occur during adolescence. Men, however, store most of their fat in their stomach. This is due to genetic differences in hormones between sexes. Estrogen, which is predominately a female sex hormone, promotes fat storage at the thighs and hips.
Men who have too much fat at their stomach are at an increased risk of serious health issues. According to MayoClinic.com, men with a large amount of belly fat are at a higher risk of heart disease, sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Stomach fat is not always restricted to the outer layer just underneath your skin, but it's also deeper inside and around your internal organs. Too much fat at the stomach can also cause lower-back pain due to the stress on the spine.
Stomach Fat in Women
Women naturally have a greater percentage of body fat than men due to their reproductive capabilities. According to Bodybuilding.com, a healthy body fat percentage for women is 20 to 25 percent, while men’s healthy range is 10 to 15 percent. While women most often store fat at their hips and thighs during childbearing age, once they reach menopause and are no longer able to bear children, their estrogen levels decrease. As a result, fat storage begins to transition toward their stomach and waist like men.
Measuring Stomach Fat
MayoClinic.com recommends that those who are concerned with having too much fat at the stomach should measure their waist. Stand and wrap a tape measure around your bare stomach so it lines up just above your hip bone. Men who have a stomach circumference greater than 40 inches and women with a circumference greater than 35 inches have an unhealthy amount of fat and should make efforts to lower their body fat percentage by frequently participating in physical activity and following a healthy diet.
- Scientific American: Why Does Fat Deposit on the Hips and Thighs of Women and Around the Stomachs of Men?
- Bodybuilding.com: Fat Loss: Men and Women are Not Made Alike!
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Men: Why Weight Loss Matters
- The Times of India: Why Men Store Fat in Bellies, Women on Hips
- Seattle PI: Men and Women Gain Weight Differently and Store Fat in Different Places. Why Is That?
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Women: Taking — and Keeping — it Off
- Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images