You heard correctly—being "apple-shaped" does increase the risk for health problems.
The terms "apple" and "pear" describe where fat is stored on the body. People who are apple-shaped tend to carry extra fat in the abdominal area above the waistline. People who are pear-shaped tend to carry extra fat in the buttocks, hips and thighs.
An apple shape increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. This is true even if your body mass index (BMI) falls within a healthy range (BMI is an estimate of body fat). A pear shape doesn't seem to carry the same risks, but may raise the risk for varicose veins and orthopedic problems.
Being apple- or pear-shaped is largely determined by genetics, but smoking and drinking alcohol (think "beer belly") also seem to increase abdominal fat.
A waist measurement of more than 35 inches for women or more than 40 inches for men suggests increased risk for health problems. To measure your waist:
Place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone. Make sure the tape is snug (but does not squeeze your skin) and level all the way around your waist.
Relax, breathe in, exhale, and measure your waist.
If your measurement puts you at risk, you can improve your health by losing a modest amount of weight. Research shows that losing just 10 to 15 pounds can help lower blood glucose, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.