In contrast, the pear shapes, such as actress Kate Winslet, who once predominated, have well-defined waists but generous hips and bottoms.
The shift from apples to pears came to light in a series of ‘health MOTs’ carried out on tens of thousands of British men and women.
Most of the female members of Nuffield Health’s gyms put through their paces had waistlines that were almost two inches bigger than the 31½-inch limit recommended for good health.
And the average waist to hip ratio for the 24,025 women surveyed was 0.83.
Anything above 0.8 suggests an apple-shaped figure, denoted by generous waist and slim hips.
A waist measurement of under 80 percent of the hip circumference is generally considered healthy, with the wasp-waisted ratio of 0.7 that was common in the 1950s termed ideal.
And not just for health – studies also show that men find these proportions to be the most appealing.
“The data shows that the common assumption that UK women are predominately pear-shaped is no longer accurate,” the Daily Mail quoted a spokesman for Nuffield Health as saying.
This is an unhealthy trend, as fat gathered around the stomach is known to be particularly harmful to health.
Not only does it produce more dangerous chemicals, but it is also closer to the body’s vital organs than flab on the bottom, hips and thighs.
Research shows that carrying excess weight around the waist can raise a woman’s risk of a host of ills, including breast cancer, heart disease, liver problems and diabetes.
Her chances of starting a family may also suffer, with fat stored around the middle disrupting the normal rhythm of the ovaries, making it harder to conceive.
“While waist size may seem like a cosmetic issue, this isn’t about women fitting into their skinny jeans, rather it’s an important indicator of overall health and wellbeing, particularly when taken into account with other health measurements,” Nuffield Health’s Dr Davina Deniszczyc said.
However, those whose waist is bigger than advised can take heart from the fact that fat from the tummy is usually the first to go when we diet.
The average waist size of the men measured was 36½ inches – and so within the 37in limit.
However, it should be noted that the survey was not nationally representative, with all of those taking part new or existing members of a gym.