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Thigh High Health Arrives

Ample Legs Signal Lower Blood Pressure

By John Salak –

Talk about a boost for positive body image. The American Heart Association (AMA) just reported individuals with “fatter legs” seem less likely than those with thinner gams to suffer from high blood pressure.

In a presentation before the AMA’s Hypertension 2020 Scientific Sessions, researchers reported that while fat around a person waist is still a health no-no, unusually large thighs don’t provide the same risk.

“Ultimately, what we noted in this study is a continued discussion of it’s not just how much fat you have, but where the fat is located,” said principal investigator Aayush Visaria, M.P.H., medical student at Rutgers University. “Although we know confidently that fat around your waist is detrimental to health, the same cannot be said for leg fat. If you have fat around your legs, it is more than likely not a bad thing and may even be protecting you from hypertension, according to our findings.”

The findings were based on a five-year study of almost 6,000 men and women with an average age of 37. Approximately 25 percent of the participants suffered from high blood pressure, yet participants with higher percentages of leg fat were 61 percent less likely to have certain types of high blood pressure than those with skinny pins.

Admittedly, much more work is needed to determine why hefty legs seems to be better at battling high blood pressure. Nonetheless, researchers believe the correlation between leg size and blood pressure could open up new patient care and monitoring opportunities.

“If these results are confirmed by larger, more robust studies, and in studies using easily accessible measurement methods like thigh circumference, there is the potential to affect patient care,” Visaria said. “Just as waist circumference is used to estimate abdominal fat, thigh circumference may be a useful tool, although it’s a bit cumbersome and not as widely studied in the U.S. population.”

Oh yes, for those wondering exactly what constitutes “fatty legs” as determined by this study: men qualified if they had leg fat that hit 34 percent while women didn’t qualify until they hit 39 percent.





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