If there is one thing that connects us women, it's that we are all different, especially when it comes to our bodies.

While for me a boozy weekend or a few particularly carb-heavy days means a few extra pinchable inches around the stomach, you may find that it's your upper arms, thighs or bum that suffers when you let your willpower slide.

Where we put on weight is usually down to genetics (thanks mum), but it could also be a sign that you have a health problem that requires attention.

Take a look at what your fat (if you have any) says about your health and lifestyle.

Bum and thighs

Ever wondered why so many women suffer from stubborn fat around the bum and thighs? The source is the hormone oestrogen and the fact that women have a great number of what are known as alpha-2 receptors in the lower body.

These prevent fat from being burned off as energy, and while the problem most likely a result of your genes, it could also indicate that your lifestyle is damaging your health. The volume of man-made oestrogens, known as xenoestrogens has risen alarmingly in recent years.

They enter the body through plastic bottles, birth control pills and poor-quality meat, so detoxify by eating antioxidant-rich vegetables such as broccoli, watercress and kale.


So many of us develop a pot belly (or in the case of most men, a full-blown paunch) when we reach a certain age that it could be considered a rite of passage. However, weight around the waist is also an early indicator of something far more serious - heart disease.

Research carried out at the University of Texas found that waist measurements, relative to the size of a person's hips, were linked to heart disease.

Health experts now believe waist size, rather than your overall weight, is the warning sign to look out for in regards to heart disease. So if you carry too much weight around the middle, then now is the time to do something about it.


The primary cause of obesity is, of course, eating too much and not exercising enough, but you can also start to pile on the pounds due to reasons outwith your control. Thyroid problems, for example, are rare but are known to cause weight gain - commonly to the area around and to the side of the stomach.

Amazingly, heavy metal poisoning from tap water and tooth fillings has also been linked to thyroid disease, so you might want to start filtering your water to clear it of any toxicity.


When most of us put on weight, we usually see the fatty deposits appear round our stomach, hips or arms. It actually requires a fair amount of effort to develop back fat, but once you've got it, it can be incredibly stubborn. But what does it tell you? Basically, that you're not trying hard enough.

Even light sessions in the gym, pool or on the bike should keep wobbly back syndrome at bay, but if it doesn't then it could be your body's way of telling you that you're current exercise regime isn't working or has become stale. Time to shake things up and try something more vigorous, such as a spin class or yoga.


Like the back, your ankles are not the first body part which comes to mind when we think of weight gain. Nevertheless, the phenomenon known as 'cankles' has spread in recent years, and there are a number of common causes.

If your calves morph seamlessly into your ankles, then it could be that your circulation is not what it should be, so try doing more exercise, improve your diet and stretch every day to get the blood pumping round your body (again, yoga is a massive help).


It may be the season for covering up your legs with tights, but that doesn't mean you should ignore any puffiness or swelling around your knees, as this could mean that you are suffering from water retention.

This is most likely caused by dehydration (so drink plenty of water throughout the day), poor diet (eat plenty of fruit and vegetables) or even lack of sleep. Water rentention can also cause your ankles to swell up, so stay alert to this symptom.


While no women wants fat thighs, there is evidence to suggest that fat on the lower part of the body, as opposed to, say, the stomach, means you are less at risk from chronic conditions like heart disease.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the US found that fat growth in the lower body is biologically different to fat in the abdomen - thus explaining why a bigger belly means bigger problems for your health. Fat around the abs tends to be visceral fat deposited around the organs, while lower body flab is subcutaneous, sitting under the skin.


If you are otherwise slim and experience unexplained weight gain on places like your upper arms, this could again be put down to the over-production of the hormone oestrogen.

If you have put on weight anywhere on your body because of your lifestyle then should be aware of the risks of developing type 2 diabetes. When your body is not able to burn fat efficiently, it stores it instead. This can eventually lead to an insulin resistance, which means you could become diabetic.