(HealthDay News) – During eating, free fatty acids are preferentially stored in upper-body fat in both men and women, but during walking they are preferentially stored in lower-body fat in women, according to a study published in the February issue of Diabetes.

Christina Koutsari, Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues measured palmitate storage and storage rates in upper- and lower-body subcutaneous fat in 41 individuals during eating and in 40 individuals during walking.

The researchers found that during eating, palmitate storage in both upper-body and lower-body fat was significantly higher in women than men, although both sexes had significantly higher storage rates in upper-body fat. In contrast, during walking, palmitate storage was significantly higher in women only in lower-body fat, while both sexes had similar storage of palmitate in upper-body fat. Palmitate storage in lower-body fat correlated with adipocyte CD36 during eating and with diacylglycerol acyltransferase during walking.

“We conclude that upper-body subcutaneous fat is the preferred postprandial free fatty acid storage depot for both sexes, whereas walking favors storage in lower-body subcutaneous fat in women,” Koutsari and colleagues write. The findings “reinforce the suggestion that the free fatty acid storage pathway offers a way of protecting the body from excessive amounts of circulating free fatty acids in obesity, especially in women.”

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