Why fat legs are linked to lower blood pressure

Fat thighs are a sign of having a healthy heart, a new study has suggested, as scientists claimed evidence of a link between leg size and lower blood pressure.

Chinese researchers said they have found that having big thighs is associated with lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease in obese people.

The discovery suggests carrying more weight on the thighs could be a marker of a healthier heart among overweight people.

In the study, Dr Zhen Yang, of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, investigated links between thigh circumference and blood pressure in a population of 9,250 Chinese men and women aged 40 or older, of which around 5,350 were overweight and obese and around 4,170 were normal weight.

Research showed having a larger thigh circumference of more than 55cm in men and 54cm in women had significant links with a lower prevalence of high blood pressure. This was consistent in both men and women and was independent of age, body mass index, and waist circumference.

Meanwhile, those with a small thigh circumference of less than 51cm for men and 50cm for women, were more likely to have high blood pressure.

Dr Yang said: “In contrast to stomach fat, leg fat may be beneficial for metabolism.

“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.”

Researchers say doctors should start measuring patients’ thighs in a bid to help determine those at risk of high blood pressure among overweight and obese people in the future.

Dr Yang added: “Circumference measurements are easy, low cost and previously effective at evaluating risk of certain diseases.

“A large waist circumference is well known to be associated with elevated blood pressure, and a small thigh circumference is associated with diabetes.

“However, there are currently no studies that examine the potential of thigh circumference as an indicator of high blood pressure in people with obesity.”

The findings were published online by the journal Endocrine Connections.

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