Hey, ladies, been spending hours fretting over your beefy bottoms? Perturbed about your pear-shaped bodes no matter how many lunges you do daily? Don't be. Turns out that having a little extra cushioning around your derriere and hips—think Jennifer Lopez—may be a sign of good health.

Harvard Medical School researchers report in the journal Cell Metabolism that fat around the hips and buttocks may protect women from type 2 diabetes and other diseases by releasing certain beneficial hormones. They say that mice injected in their bellies with flab from those areas made better use of the hormone insulin in breaking down sugar in the blood (a key to preventing diabetes)—and they lost weight.

"The surprising thing was that it wasn't where the fat was located, it was the kind of fat that was the most important variable," researcher Ronald Kahn of Harvard's Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston told FOX News. "Even more surprising, it wasn't that the abdominal fat was exerting negative effects, but that subcutaneous fat was producing a good effect. I think that's an important result because not only does it say that not all fat is bad, but I think it points to a special aspect of fat where we need to do more research."

People who tend to store fat in their tummy areas (read: spare tires) have been found to be more prone to type 2 diabetes and heart disease than those with pear-shaped bodies, who store fat in their hips and backsides.

The bottom line: not all fat is bad. Happy New Year!

For more, see our in-depth report on the science of weight loss.

Montage of Jennifer Lopez and her famous body part by Manfrys via Flickr