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Thin Thighs Might Be Harbinger of Heart Disease
Date:9/3/2009

Increased risk seen in Danish study, but authors say more research is needed

THURSDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Thin thighs might look good in jeans, but a new Danish study indicates they might also raise the risk of premature death and heart disease in both men and women.

That's not to say fat thighs confer any survival benefit, the researchers stressed. Rather, the study of nearly 3,000 men and women who were followed for more than 12 years found the ideal thigh measurement was in the neighborhood of 60 centimeters, about 24 inches.

The report, by researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital, was published in the Sept. 4 issue of BMJ.

A number of studies have linked cardiovascular risk to obesity, measured by either body-mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) or waist circumference. "This is the first time that someone has related thigh size to pathology," said study author Berit L. Heitmann, a professor of nutritional epidemiology at the university's Institute for Dietary Studies.

The increased death risk for people with thin thighs "was found independent of abdominal and general obesity, lifestyle, and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and lipids," the researchers wrote.

Dr. Vivian Fonseca, chief of endocrinology at Scott & White Memorial Clinic in Temple, Texas, said: "It seems odd as to why a thin thigh may predict heart disease. However, it could represent that fat and muscle is not being deposited in the right place where it is needed, and certainly we know that fat in the wrong places, such as skeletal muscle and liver and pancreas, is associated with diabetes and may increase mortality. So the problem here may not be with the thin thighs, but where else the bulk is going."

The study authors offered their own theory: Thin thighs might suggest a lack of muscle mass, which can lead to insulin sensitivity and heart disease.

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