Shapely bodies handle stress better

Although most women would choose a slender shape over an hourglass figure and believe men would do the same, new research suggests larger waists come with hidden health benefits.

A study recently published in Current Anthropology points out that a waist-to-hip ratio of larger than 0.8 is prevalent in countries where women are stronger, more competitive and better able to handle stress. This sheds new light on medical evidence that suggests a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 or lower is preferable from a health standpoint.

Elizabeth Cashdan, an anthropologist from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, compiled data on waist-to-hip ratios from 33 non-western populations and four European populations. She found a class of hormones called androgens, which increase the amount of fat women carry around the waist, are associated with increased strength, stamina, and competitiveness and help the body deal with stress. www.sona.ie

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