Thinner thighs, weaker heart

Sep 03, 2009

Men and women whose thighs are less than 60cm in circumference have a higher risk of premature death and heart disease, according to research published on BMJ.com today. The study also concluded that individuals whose thighs are wider than 60cm have no added protective effect.

Lead author, Professor Berit Heitmann, based at Copenhagen University Hospital, says his research may help GPs identify patients who are at an increased risk of early death and developing heart disease.

While several studies have already demonstrated that being either very overweight or underweight are related to premature death and disease, this is the first to investigate the implications of thigh size on health.

Almost 3000 individuals took part in the study in Denmark - this included 1463 men and 1380 women. Participants were examined in 1987/88 for height, weight, thigh, hip and waist circumference and body composition. They were then followed up for 10 years for incidence of heart disease and 12.5 years for total number of deaths.

During the follow-up period 257 men and 155 women died, also 263 men and 140 women experienced cardiovascular disease and 103 men and 34 women suffered from heart disease. When assessing the results, the authors found that the survivors had higher fat-free thigh circumference levels.

The relationship between thigh size and early death and disease was found after taking body fat and other high risk factors (such as smoking and high cholesterol) into account. The authors therefore suggest that the risk from narrow thighs could be associated with too little muscle mass in the region. This is problematic because it may lead to low insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes and, in the long run, heart disease, they explain.

The authors conclude that the study "found that the risk of having small thighs was associated with development of cardiovascular morbidity and early mortality. This increased risk was found independent of abdominal and general obesity, lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and lipids related to early cardio vascular morbidity and mortality".

The authors believe that doctors could use thigh size as an early marker for at risk patients and suggest that individuals increase lower body exercise in order to increase the size of the their thighs if necessary. Further research would be needed, however, to assess whether this approach was worthwhile.

An accompanying editorial supports the need for more research to test the strength of this association.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Serotonin neuron subtypes: New insights could inform SIDS understanding, depression treatment

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Caffeine cream tones thighs

Dec 06, 2007

A new study recently published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reports on the discovery of caffeine’s novel benefit in slenderizing thighs.

Waist size predictor of heart failure in men and women

Apr 08, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Adding to the growing evidence that a person’s waist size is an important indicator of heart health, a study led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has found ...

Have migraine? Bigger waistline may be linked

Feb 12, 2009

Overweight people who are between the ages of 20 and 55 may have a higher risk of experiencing migraine headaches, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual ...

Being overweight just as risky to health as being a smoker

Feb 25, 2009

Obese adolescents have the same risk of premature death in adulthood as people who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, while those who are overweight have the same risk as less heavy smokers, according to research published ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nanotech_republika_pl
not rated yet Sep 03, 2009
Explain to me, if you have just circumference of thighs, how can you tell anything about that person's health? With just one data you have no idea how tall or heavy the person is. The person can be 8 feet tall and very skinny, or 5 feet tall and very fat.
murray
not rated yet Sep 04, 2009
In a random sample of people, most with thin thighs I would expect to be frail--far fewer to be hard-core distance runners. The frails would tilt the average.
mark0101
not rated yet Sep 04, 2009
does this mean both thighs combined? Mine are 36cm each and extremely thin compared to anyone else I know..

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.