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Why your bum looks big in this

By James Chapman, Daily Mail

15 September 2002: When trying on a new outfit, countless women have asked their man the question: 'Does my bottom look big in this?' Many have also probably asked themselves why they ended up with such an ample derriere.

Press Photo

Now scientists have taken a major step towards coming up with an answer. Apparently, the size of the jeans is all down to a single gene. In a study based on sheep, the details of which are published today in the journal Genome Research, scientists identified a mutated gene which causes some animals to have unusually large, muscular bottoms.

They have called the gene 'callipyge', meaning ' beautiful buttocks' in Greek, because the sheep have large bottoms with little fat.

Such an attribute could prove beneficial in breeding sheep because it enables them to convert food into muscle 30 per cent more efficiently than other sheep.

More excitingly, the gene could help experts understand how fat is distributed in humans.

'We know the specific gene mutation that leads to large bottoms in sheep, but now we have to find how it operates,' said Professor Randy Jirtle, of Duke University in North Carolina, who carried out the research with the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Experts say that far from worrying about the size of their bottoms, women with the curvaceous shape of a Marilyn Monroe or Jennifer Lopez - should be aware that a fuller derriere is often a sign of good health.

A recently completed 25-year study of women showed those with large bottoms were less likely to suffer heart attacks, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

There is also some evidence that a larger bottom and thighs puts women at less risk of osteoporosis and angina.

Overall, women with a hip measurement of 40.5 inches or more suffered less ill health than their slimmer counterparts.

The research does not mean that fat is beneficial. Women with 'apple' shapes - with fat accumulated around their stomachs - are more likely to die prematurely from a range of health problems.

The effect is thought to be because of the different ways the body deals with fat deposits in different parts of the body.

In women with fat around the stomach, it is constantly broken down and circulated in the blood, triggering health problems such as heart disease.

Fat around the bottom and thighs does not break up in the same way and is therefore believed to be less of a health hazard.