The age-old riddle of why women are fatter than men may have been solved – they need curvy thighs, hips and buttocks to make their babies intelligent, a study claims.
These “fat banks” play a vital role in fuelling the development of newborns’ brains via breast-feeding. The fat in these areas is a depot for building a baby’s brain.
You need lots of fat to make a nervous system, and the fats in these areas are also enriched in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is a particularly important component in the human brain. It looks as if women have evolved to accumulate these fats and hold on to them – until a baby arrives.
It has long been a mystery why women have so much body fat – typically 30 per cent of their total weight. Women have traded muscle for fat, so they are about a third as strong. Men’s bodies are made up of just five to 10 per cent body fat, and they have a much more linear shape as a result. Women’s extra fat is lost during breast-feeding, when it is needed for their baby’s brain. Mothers who breast-feed typically lose one pound of fat (half a kilo) a month, he added.
Over the past five million years, the average human brain has trebled in volume from 400ml to 1,200ml. It could therefore follow that women have had to become fatter to keep up with the growing demands of babies’ brains. The latest findings could explain why men find curvy women attractive: maybe because their children are likely to be more clever. The brain-building, breast-milk lipids (fats) are largely derived from the fat stored in a mother’s thighs and buttocks. Women with larger thighs have higher levels of these lipids. There is even evidence that they and their children are more intelligent as a result.