Women's health * Men's health * Healthy living * Weight loss

Big thighs may protect against heart disease

Zone default image Good news for curvy women. And men!

Time to ditch the hip and thigh diet! New research by Danish scientists has found that men and women whose thighs measure less than 60cm (24") in circumference are more likely to develop heart disease and die early compared to people with larger thighs.

While previous research has shown that being very overweight or underweight is linked to early death and heart disease, scientists from Copenhagen University say this is the first time these conditions have been linked to thigh size.

Professor Berit Heitmann, who led the study, said her research could help GPs identify patients at risk of early death and developing heart disease.

The study, pulished in today's British Medical Journal, involved almost 3,000 people aged between 35 and 65. Participants were examined for height, weight, thigh, hip and waist circumferece and body composition. They were then followed for 10 years for incidence of heart disease and 12.5 years for total numbers of deaths.

The results showed that during the follow-up period 257 men and 155 women died, 263 men and 140 women experienced cardiovascular disease and 103 men and 34 women suffered from heart disease.

When the results were analysed, the researchers discovered that the survivors had higher thigh circumference measurements. In fact, those with the smallest thighs (less than 55cm) were found to be at twice the risk of early death compared with people of a normal build.

However, the protective effect of having larger thighs stopped at around 60cm (24"). Having thighs thicker than did not provide any extra benefit.

The results proved to be true even after taking into account other high risk factors for heart disease and early death such as smoking, body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Scientists suggest that the risk from narrow thighs could be associated with too little muscle mass in the region. This could possibly lead to low insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes and, in the long run, heart disease.

This article was published on Fri 4 September 2009

Image © LizMoore15 - Fotolia.com

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