Carrying extra weight on your hips, bum and thighs is good for your health, protecting against heart and metabolic problems, the BBC reported Tuesday following a new study.

Hip fat mops up harmful fatty acids and contains an anti-inflammatory agent that stops arteries from clogging, the British experts behind the research said.

Big behinds are preferable to extra fat around the waistline, which gives no such protection, the Oxford study team said in a report published in the International Journal of Obesity.

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And in the future, doctors might prescribe ways to redistribute body fat to the hips to protect against cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Evidence shows that fat around the thighs and backside — which leads to a figure commonly described as being "pear shaped" — is harder to shift than fat around the waist.

Although this may sound undesirable, it is actually beneficial because when fat is broken down quickly it releases a lot of cytokines which trigger inflammation in the body.

These cytokines have been linked to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and diabetes.

The slower burning hip fat also makes more of the hormone adiponectin that protects the arteries and promotes better blood sugar control and fat burning.

In comparison, carrying excess fat around the stomach, known as being "apple shaped", raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

"It is shape that matters and where the fat gathers,” lead researcher, Dr. Konstantinos Manolopoulos, of Oxford University, said. "Fat around the hips and thighs is good for you but around the tummy is bad."

He said in an ideal world, the more fat around the thighs the better — as long as the tummy stays slim.

"Unfortunately, you tend not to get one without the other," he said.