Got a little extra junk in the trunk? It may actually protect you from diabetes, a new study shows.

A type of fat that accumulates around the hips and buttocks called subcutaneous fat helps to improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar, a study from Harvard researchers found.

Research already has shown that fat that accumulates in the stomach increases the risk for diabetes.

In trying to decipher why fat in different parts of the body has different effects on the metabolism, Ronald Kahn and his colleagues from Harvard Medical School transplanted subcutaneous fat from the hips and buttocks into the abdomens of mice.

The mice lost weight and their fat cells shrank, even though they made no changes in their diet or activity levels. The study appears in the journal Cell Metabolism.

"It was a surprising result," Kahn told Reuters. "We actually found it had a beneficial effect, and it was especially true when you put it inside the abdomen."

Click here for more on this study in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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