Why are we shaped differently, and why does it matter?

Sylvia Santosa, Michael D. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Body fat distribution is an important predictor of metabolic abnormalities in obese humans. Dysregulation of free fatty acid (FFA) release, especially from upper body subcutaneous adipose tissue, appears to contribute substantially to these metabolic disturbances. Why different individuals preferentially store fat in upper vs. lower body subcutaneous fat or subcutaneous vs. visceral fat is not completely understood. Current evidence suggests that defects in regional lipolysis are not the cause of net fat retention in larger fat depots. Regional variations in the storage of fatty acids, both meal derived and direct reuptake, and storage of circulating FFAs that may help to explain why some depots expand at the expense of others have been reported. We review the quantitative data on regional lipolysis, meal, and FFA storage in adults to provide an overview of fat balance differences in adults with different fat distribution patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E531-E535
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Adipose tissue
  • Dietary fat
  • Free fatty acids
  • Lipoprotein lipase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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