How to classify your body shape and assess its health risks

People come in all shapes and sizes — and all these bring different health risks.

How your body is proportioned and where you might see fat sit can have different impacts on your organs.

It’s important to be and feel healthy, whatever your shape.

But knowing what body type you have, and where problem zones might be could be helpful for keeping you in tip top condition.

Depending on your body type, you could be at greater risk of heart problems or diabetes.

Being aware of potential issues, it means you can work on the areas you need to keep trim and strong.

Here, we explain four of the main body types and the health risks in each:


This is when people have bigger waists relative to their hips, creating a slight apple shape.

Women who have this body type are at greater risk of having a heart attack than men.

Researchers from Oxford University found having bigger waists, and higher waist-to-hip and waist-to-height ratios left women 10-20 percent more at risk of a heart attack.

Having more fat around the waist has also been linked to a raised risk of cancer and diabetes.

Jacqui Fenner, a body form expert working with Deleo, added: “Apple-shaped people are often overweight in the center and above the waist.

“While it may be easier to lose weight in the upper body than in the hips or thighs, excess fat around the waist or belly can be dangerous to your health.”

She recommends keeping trim and healthy by keeping an eye on the amount of carbs you are eating and eating higher protein meals.

Body expert Jacqui Fenner said “apple-shaped people” normally have more weight above the waist.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Swimming, cycling and running are also excellent workouts that will keep your heart healthy.


Hourglass figures have been traditionally seen as an attractive body shape in a woman.

Some studies have claimed women with this type of body are less likely to be depressed, and are more fertile.

“With a high bust, big hips, and tiny waist, fortunate hourglass figures are seen as one of the most desirable body shapes, and they tend to gain weight evenly across their bodies,” Ms. Fenner said.

But this means if people with this shape do gain weight, it is more evenly spread, it makes it harder to notice.

Joggers dressed in shorts and T-shirts run in Brooklyn Bridge Park, in New York, as the Lower Manhattan skyline is seen behind them, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015.
Running is a great exercise to keep healthy.
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Therefore you could be running the risk of diseases linked to weight gain – like heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes — without realizing.

Hourglass figures often also mean the breasts are bigger than average – which could cause neck, shoulder and back pain, and in turn also make exercising difficult.


This is another classic shape for a woman, where fat is divided around the thighs, hips and bottom.

While it might not sound it, this appears to have less health risks than other body shapes.

A young woman
“Pears” should put an emphasis on cardio, Dr. Ana says.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dr. Ana, an aesthetics doctor with Deleo, explained: “Pear shapes have slim arms and shoulders, and their weight is divided around their thighs, hips, and buttocks.

“They may develop a little fat pouch around their lower abdomen as well.

“These regions, fortunately, operate as ‘fat storage’ and do not affect organs such as the liver or heart, lowering the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.”

A study published in the European Heart Journal found carrying more weight on the legs — i.e. pear shaped — reduces heart disease risk when compared to apple shaped people.

But with extra weight on the hips, bums and legs, the risk of varicose veins, degenerative knee and joint disorders are more common.

The knees and joints can wear out more quickly, with a raised risk of fluid retention.

Therefore, Dr. Ana said “pears” should also aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, with an emphasis on cardiovascular activity and hip and thigh toning exercises like squats and lunges.

Inverted triangles

The expert said: “People with this physique, sometimes known as the ‘carrot,’ have thin waists and hips and larger shoulders and busts.

“Inverted triangles confront the opposite challenge that pears have.

“Inverted triangles suffer with a lack of fat and muscle, whereas pears battle with persistent fat.”

Men and women with smaller body frames are at higher risk of osteoporosis, due to having less bone mass to draw from.

This can then also lead to osteoporosis-related fractures.

There has been suggestions of a link between the inverted triangle shape, which a slim frame between shoulders and to the hips, and weakening bones.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.