Given the relatively small number of people in the study and a somewhat weak relationship between thigh size and cardiovascular risk, "it seems unlikely that thigh circumference will be clinically useful," Scott wrote. "More research is needed to see whether measuring thigh circumference with a tape measure adds anything more to our clinical management than eliciting risk factors from the history, examining the cardiovascular system and measuring serum lipids."
"What would be useful would be studies showing that changing thigh size improves health," Heitmann said. She said she does not plan to do such a study, but will continue to analyze data from the original group.
More research is needed before the finding is put to medical use, Heitmann acknowledged. "If it is shown by other studies that this is not just chance but that there is a clinical relationship, this would be a good marker for increased risk over the next 10 to 12 years," she said.
"After correction for other variables, the relationship is actually very weak," Fonseca noted. "There are much better ways to predict risk, and I would not recommend that we start measuring thighs in clinic."
The impact of obesity on cardiovascular risk is described by the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Berit L. Heitmann, Ph.D, professor, nutritional eidemiology, Copenhagen University Hospital Institute for Dietary Studies, Denmark; Vivian Fonseca, M.D., professor and chief, endocrinology, Scott & White Memorial Clinic, Temple, Texas; Sept. 4, 2009, BMJ
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