Study on diseases of civilization: body shapes play an essential role
Over the years, researchers in Leipzig have been studying the extent of lifestyle diseases. Some body types are at higher risk for certain diseases. The scientists not only differentiate into the well-known apple and pear shape, but in total into 17 different body shapes.
Tracking down common diseases
In 2010, scientists from the interdisciplinary research network LIFE (Leipzig Interdisciplinary Research Complex on Molecular Causes of Environmentally and Lifestyle-Related Diseases) started a long-term project to get to the bottom of common diseases such as obesity or diabetes. While they were on the trail of widespread diseases for years, they found, among other things, that the previous classification into pear or apple form was not sufficient. The scientists divided the study participants into a total of 17 different body shapes.
Classification into apple and pear shape is not enough
It has long been known that men form fat deposits especially in the abdominal area and are therefore more of the apple distribution type, while women tend to have a pear-shaped distribution pattern and therefore have more fat pads on their thighs and buttocks. But there are not only exceptions, but also other categorizations, such as the so-called chillies: enviable people who apparently never put on a gram of fat. In a current article, the “Welt” reports online about the project of the Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases, in which a total of 10,000 people from the Leipzig region were examined, including with regard to their body shape.
With the 3D body scan technology, a new method was used in LIFE to record body shapes and fat distribution. "It is not enough to differentiate people only by apple and pear shape," said Henry Löffler-Wirth, who analyzed the data. "We were able to distinguish a total of 17 different body shapes from our Leipzig participants."
Where people put on fat
Eight of the 17 forms describe overweight people with a body mass index above 25. The different forms were divided into male, female and four other categories. As Löffler-Wirth explained, the non-gender-specific forms are two androgynous patterns and two in which the overweight is so large that it is no longer possible to distinguish between men and women. It is particularly important where exactly people put on fat. "Some put on especially the belly, others have the pads in the buttocks. But there are also those who have particularly thick arms and no neck anymore, ”says the scientist. One could give the different forms names that indicate the particularly distinctive characteristic, but: “Firstly, it is complicated to always define this very precisely and secondly, that would also be far too simple. There are always several factors involved. "
Early signs of certain diseases
Various investigations should follow. The researchers are interested in the relationships between body shape and factors such as exercise data, eating habits, social status or hormone status of the test subjects. "One of our doctoral students would like to investigate the connections," said Löffler-Wirth: Is obesity (obesity) influenced by certain hormones - or is it the other way around? The scientists hope to use the new classification to recognize early signs of certain diseases and to better assess risk factors. The elucidation of genetic mechanisms is also crucial for this.
As part of the project, extensive genetic analyzes have been carried out in recent years. Six new genetic variants were discovered, which apparently influence energy metabolism. "This opens up therapeutic approaches for the treatment of metabolically associated diseases such as obesity, diabetes or heart diseases," explained Markus Scholz, professor of genetic statistics.
Women speak deeper than expected
The researchers were not only interested in the different body shapes in their investigations. Over the years, the Leipzig scientists had repeatedly published interim reports of their study. Last year, they pointed out that there are more and more mental problems and depression in children. New insights were also gained on the voice pitch of the people. The scientists found that women speak more deeply than previously thought. "The specialist literature has so far shown that women speak about an octave higher than men," explained Christoph Engel from the Leipzig Institute for Medical Informatics and Statistics.
But as the evaluation of the data from 2,500 subjects showed, women use their voices much deeper: "Instead of an entire octave, the female voice is only about a fifth - that is, half the value - above the male voice," said Prof. Dr. Michael Fuchs according to a message from the University of Leipzig. "This enabled us to determine the standard values of voices for the first time in such a large group," said Engel. However, it still needs to be researched whether women consciously lower their voices or whether there are hormonal causes. In any case, according to the scientists, the values are important parameters for the clinical evaluation of voice disorders. The LIFE study, which ended at the end of 2014, is to be the basis for further studies that will start in autumn 2016. (ad)