There are two primary types of body fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat is found under the skin all around your body.
Visceral fat is located behind your abdominal muscles, surrounding your visceral organs.
In general, males accumulate more visceral fat than females, while females accumulate relatively more subcutaneous fat. This may explain the difference in cardiovascular and obesity-related disease risk between men and women.
Obesity and Inflammation
An excess accumulation of body fat characterizes obesity, and it is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even certain types of cancer.
One of the mechanisms through which obesity can contribute to these diseases is inflammation. Inflammation is a normal immune response that helps protect the body from harm.
However, chronic inflammation, which occurs when the immune system is constantly activated, can contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Obesity is known to promote chronic inflammation, and this inflammation can affect multiple organs in the body, including the brain.
Over the past few years, evidence has emerged to demonstrate that visceral fat may have a more significant impact on your cardiometabolic risk than subcutaneous fat.
Disease Risk in Men and Women
A recent animal study published in the journal Diabetes found that female mice with more subcutaneous fat that were fed a high-fat diet had lower levels of inflammation in their brains compared to male mice that were fed the same diet. This suggests that females may be less likely to experience brain inflammation as a result of obesity.
However, it is important to note that this study was conducted in mice, and more research is needed to determine if these findings apply to humans as well.
The Role of Subcutaneous Fat
One potential explanation for the difference in inflammation between males and females is the location of excess fat storage. Subcutaneous fat appears to have protective effects against inflammation, which could potentially help protect females (who generally tend to store excess energy as subcutaneous fat) from the inflammatory effects of obesity.
In contrast, visceral fat has been found to produce inflammatory molecules, which could contribute to the development of chronic diseases.
While more research is needed to fully understand the role of gender in the relationship between obesity and inflammation, the current evidence suggests that women may be less likely to experience brain inflammation as a result of obesity.