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Ashley Graham, a famous supermodel, is often hailed for her body-positive slogan, “Thick thighs save lives.” According to a new study on heart health, she might actually be right!

Thick thighs and hypertension

Researchers in China believe that obese or overweight patients with larger thigh circumference are at lower risk of heart disease. Additionally, patients with larger thighs recorded lower blood pressure against their counterparts with smaller thighs.

The study was published in Endocrine Connections and examined 9,250 Chinese women and men above 40. More than 5,300 of these patients were found to be obese or overweight. Study authors say that women with thighs measuring 54cm in circumference and men with 55 cm were consistently lower blood pressure.

On the other hand, overweight patients with measurements of under 50cm for women and 51cm for men were more likely to be hypertensive.

The researchers say that hypertension is one of the biggest public health complications affecting the world. More than a billion people are hypertensive globally, making it the lead cause of death and disability in the world. In addition, high blood pressure strains the heart, leaving chances of fatty build-up in the blood vessels, which affects a person’s blood flow. This damage increases the patient’s risk of stroke and heart disease.

Dr. Zheng Yang, the study author, says this is not the first time the tape measure has been linked with heart disease. Previous studies showed that having a large waistline increases the risk of high blood pressure. A small thigh circumference has also been associated with diabetes.

Dr, Yang says this study reveals how thighs may contain specific nutrients the body requires for proper blood flow. The doctor adds that leg fat might be beneficial to the body’s metabolism in contrast to stomach fat.

Possibility of contradicting results

The researchers, however, add that although their studies show a link between thigh circumference and heart disease in the Chinese population, the results might differ in different demographics. They also hope to have follow-up studies to understand the relationship between the thigh’s fat mass and hypertension.