March 1, 2023

What Body Shape Says About Health | Diet & Fitness

Learn all about different body shapes and what each shape might reveal about your health and well-being.

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Home / Living with Diabetes / What Body Shape Says About Health | Diet & Fitness

What Your Body Shape Reveals About Your Health

Weight management is an essential factor in successful diabetes management. However, this involves more than just stepping on the scale every day. You’ll also want to determine your body shape. After all, this can improve your understanding of the health risks you may face and the weight management strategies you should follow.

Of course, fat distribution alone doesn’t determine how healthy you are. Still, it’s a good idea to learn more about your body’s shape and what that means for you. This article will look at some common body shapes and what you should know about each one.


In one system often used to differentiate between body shapes, these shapes are sorted into categories known as “somatotypes.” There are three primary somatotypes to remember, along with a few types that include elements of multiple body shapes.


This somatotype is defined by thin bones, small joints, a narrow frame, and a relative lack of curves. When you imagine a model, runner, or dancer, you’re likely thinking of an ectomorph.

People with this body shape often appear to be thin, to the point where they can have difficulty gaining weight even when they want to. However, looks can be deceiving. Especially when they’re older, ectomorphs can have higher amounts of body fat than they might assume. That’s because their bodies process food so quickly – as a result, muscle development can be more difficult for ectomorphs than people with other body types.


The average endomorph’s body is characterized by short limbs, larger bones, small shoulders, and higher body fat and muscle levels. Athletes involved with football and shot put, along with women considered “curvy,” often fall into this body type.

Generally speaking, endomorphs are less likely to burn foods high in carbs. Instead, they often store these foods in the form of fat. Because of this, people with this body shape can gain weight more quickly and have a more challenging time losing it. The hips and lower belly are common sites for weight gain among endomorphs.


While people with any body type are involved with sports, this body type is stereotypically considered “athletic.” It features low levels of body fat, broad shoulders, and a narrow waist.

Mesomorphs often find it easy to build muscle, as they can lose and gain weight quickly. Because of this, many soccer players and sprinters – along with people participating in other athletic activities – fit this category.

Pear Shape

Some body types do not neatly fit one of the three main somatotypes. As an example, consider people with “pear-shaped” bodies. Like ectomorphs, they tend to have a thin upper body; however, they also have a lower body closer to that seen in the endomorph somatotype.

Many people with pear-shaped bodies store fat in their thighs and hips. Some research has shown that this type of fat has connections to fewer health problems than belly fat. Since this body type is more common in women, it may play a role in women’s longer average life spans than men. (That said, people with pear-shaped bodies can still see health benefits from weight loss.)

Apple Shape

Meanwhile, people with “apple-shaped” bodies tend to store fat in their stomachs instead of their lower bodies. This body type is often informally known as a “beer belly.”

Unfortunately, apple-shaped bodies are linked to more health problems than pear-shaped bodies. Belly fat can indicate the presence of fat around internal organs instead of just under the skin. This type of fat is connected more closely to conditions like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Along with your body shape, your Body Mass Index (BMI) can help your doctor measure your amount of body fat. This term refers to a value calculated with your height and weight. A score above 25 indicates excess weight, while a score over 30 indicates obesity.

The BMI alone can’t directly measure body fat or its distribution. Because of this, it works best along with other tools, including body shapes.

Determining Your Waist Size

As we discussed earlier, belly fat has links to a variety of health problems. Are you wondering if your belly fat is under control? There are a few steps you can take to figure this out:

Waist Size

First, you can try measuring your waist size directly with measuring tape. Line this tape up to your belly button and wind it once around your waist, taking care not to suck in your stomach. A measurement of 40 inches or more suggests excess belly fat in men; for women, the same is true for measurements of 35 inches or more. (Note that these numbers may not apply perfectly to people with large bodies!)

Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Another way to measure your belly fat is by calculating your waist-to-hip ratio. First, measure your waist right above your belly button as described in the previous section. Then, measure your hips at the point that they’re widest, and divide the former value by the latter. For women, a result above 0.85 could indicate a heightened risk of health problems. For men, look out for results above 0.9.

It’s not yet clear whether measuring your waist size or figuring out your waist-to-hip ratio is a better indicator of your health. However, both methods can help you be aware of potential health risks.

Research on Body Shapes

Are you wondering how much weight distribution affects health? You may be interested in a pair of studies on this very subject. We’ve compiled some info about this research right here, so read on:

Bigger Thighs, Better Health?

One body shape study spanned more than 12 years and included roughly 3,000 subjects. The results of this study suggested that people with thighs measuring less than 24.5 inches were at a higher risk of heart disease and other health issues.

That said, the study didn’t consider whether subjects’ thigh sizes were due to fat or muscle. With that in mind, it’s hard to read too far into its results.

Arm Yourself

Another study focused on 4,000 men in the 60-79 age range. This research found that men with slim waists and large arms were predictors of improved health and longer lifespans.

Specifically, men with bigger mid-arm measurements were found to live longer in this study. However, it’s unclear whether the muscle itself helped or whether it was simply a sign of a healthy lifestyle.

Weight Loss Tips

No matter what body shape you have, losing excess weight can go a long way towards helping you live a healthier lifestyle. If you have diabetes, weight loss can make managing your condition considerably easier.

While some body types tend to have an easier time losing weight than others, the basics of weight loss apply to everyone:

Exercise to Stay in Shape

Regular exercise is an ideal way to improve your overall health. You should try to get about 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

Deep fat is connected to many health problems. Even if exercise doesn’t help you lose weight, it can help you become healthier by cutting down on this fat and building muscle.

Eat for a Healthy Body Shape

The other major component to keep in mind while aiming to live a healthier lifestyle is dieting. Focus on getting balanced portions of whole grains, veggies, fruits, and lean proteins (including plant-based protein sources).

Large amounts of simple carbohydrates can already be dangerous to people with diabetes. Still, their adverse effects go beyond their impact on your blood sugar. Along with trans fats, sweetened foods and drinks may increase belly fat – making it even more important to avoid them when you can.

Take Another Step Towards A Healthier Lifestyle

The process of improving your health starts with understanding your own body. We here at US MED hope this article has given you valuable information on your body type and how to take it into account when taking steps to manage diabetes.

Are you looking for more information on healthy living with diabetes? Take a minute to read our articles on diet and exercise! And as always, US MED can give you more time to focus on your health by simplifying the process of ordering diabetes supplies. Check out our wide selection of products – we can ship all of these supplies for free, and we’ll remind you when it’s time to reorder!

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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