SHANGHAI, China — Supermodel Ashley Graham has made the body-positive slogan “thick thighs save lives” famous on social media. According to a recent medical study on heart health, she may be right!
Researchers in China say overweight or obese patients who have a larger thigh circumference also have a lower risk of heart disease. Patients with larger thighs were found to have a lower blood pressure than their peers with smaller thighs.
The study, published in Endocrine Connections, examined 9,250 Chinese men and women over the age of 40. Over 5,300 patients were found to be overweight and obese.
Researchers say overweight men with thighs measuring over 55 centimeters and women measuring over 54 cm were consistently found to have lower blood pressure. Overweight patients with smaller measurements (under 51 cm for men and 50 cm for women) were more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure.
The study says high blood pressure is one of the greatest public health problems affecting the world. Over one billion people suffer from the condition, making it the leading cause of death and disability worldwide.
High blood pressure puts more strain on the heart and can lead to fatty build up in the blood vessels, affecting a person’s blood flow. This damage increases a patient’s risk for heart disease and stroke.
Dr. Zhen Yang says this isn’t the first time a tape measure has found a connection to disease. The study explains that a large waist line has previously been associated with a higher risk for hypertension. A small thigh circumference has also been tied to the signs of diabetes.
Yang says this study shows how thighs may contain certain nutrients the body needs to keep your blood flowing properly.
“In contrast to stomach fat, leg fat may be beneficial for metabolism,” says the doctor in a statement.
“The most likely cause of this association is that there is more thigh muscle and/or fat deposited under the skin which secretes various beneficial substances that help keep blood pressure in a relatively stable range.”
One thigh size may not fit all
Researchers say although their results show a link to heart disease in the Chinese population, the numbers may differ for other races based on size and activity level.
The study is now turning to the thigh’s fat mass, muscle mass, bone mass, and proteins. By looking at how these parts are proportioned, Yang hopes to find out how each affects blood pressure and develop new treatments for hypertension.