Fat legs offer health protection

Have you been blasting your thighs in an attempt to get the perfect set of ‘pins’ for summer? If you have fat legs, it turns out it might not be such a bad thing.

A new study has revealed that having fatter legs is linked to a lower risk of suffering from high blood pressure.

Researchers discovered that people who have a higher percentage of total body fat tissue in their legs were less likely to have high blood pressure than people with a lower percentage of body fat in their legs.

Principal investigator on the study Aayush Visaria explained to a virtual hypertension conference that it was not how much body fat you had, but where it was located that was important.

“Although we know confidently that fat around your waist is detrimental to health, the same cannot be said for leg fat,” he said.

“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 study examined the rates of high blood pressure in nearly 6000 adults with an average age of 37, with around 24 per cent of the cohort suffering from high blood pressure.

Special X-ray scans measured fat tissue in the legs, and these measures were compared to overall body fat tissue.

Investigators classified participants as having either a high or low percentage of leg fat, with high fat defined as 34 per cent or more for males, and 39 per cent or more for females.

Participants with higher percentages of leg fat were less likely than those with lower levels of fat to have all three types of high blood pressure. 

Compared to those with lower percentages of leg fat, participants with higher percentages of leg fat were 61 per cent less likely to have the type of high blood pressure where both numbers are elevated.

In addition, risk for participants with higher leg fat was 53 per cent lower for diastolic high blood pressure (the second number in a blood pressure reading, measuring pressure between heart beats) and 39 per cent lower for systolic high blood pressure (the first number in a reading, measuring pressure when the heart beats).

“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,” Mr Visaria said.

“Just as waist circumference is used to estimate abdominal fat, thigh circumference may be a useful tool.”

Do you suffer from high blood pressure? Is fat storage spread around on your body or located in one area?

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Written by Ben

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