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University of Copenhagen
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Skinny thighs linked to heart disease

New University of Copenhagen report shows that thin legs raise the risk of premature death and heart disease in both men and women

With the current fashion for skin-tight leggings and skinny jeans, many young women would kill for catwalk-thin thighs. However, a new Copenhagen study has found a link between slim thighs and the risk of cardiovascular illness such as heart disease, writes the american news site

A number of studies in the past have linked cardiovascular risk to obesity, measured either in body mass or waist circumference, but thigh circumference has never before been studied as a risk factor.

»This is the first time that someone has related thigh size to pathology«, says study author Berit L. Heitmann, professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen Institute for Dietary Studies.

Lack of muscle is the problem

But do not be fooled into thinking that fat thighs are the way to longevity. Chubby legs do not give any survival benefits, according to the researchers.

Indeed, the new study which observed nearly 3,000 men and women for more than 12 years, found that the ideal thigh measurement was in the neighbourhood of 60 centimetres, about 24 inches.

It seems that it is not the lack of fat that is the problem, but the lack of muscle. According to the authors of the study, a lack of muscle mass can lead to insulin sensitivity and heart disease.

More research needed

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

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.