The findings, published in the journal Endocrine Connections, suggest that carrying more weight on the thighs may be a marker of better heart health in Chinese obese and overweight people, who are at a greater risk of heart disease.
Thigh circumference may be useful for targeting obese and overweight people for earlier detection of high blood pressure, Ait said.
According to the researchers, high blood pressure is a major public health problem affecting more than 1 billion people worldwide and is the leading cause of mortality and disability globally.
For the results, Dr Zhen Yang from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China investigated the association between thigh circumference and blood pressure in a population of 9,250 Chinese men and women aged 40 or older, of which 5,348 were overweight and obese, and 4,172 were normal weight.
A significant link between larger thigh circumference (more than 55cm in men and 54cm in women) and lower prevalence of high blood pressure was observed consistently in both men and women, independently of age, body mass index, and waist circumference.AAWhereas those with a small thigh circumference (less than 50cm for women and 51cm for men) were more likely to have elevated blood pressure, the study said.
"In contrast to stomach fat, leg fat may be beneficial for metabolism. The most likely cause of this association is that there is more thigh muscle and/or fat deposited under the skin which secretes various beneficial substances that help keep blood pressure in a relatively stable range." Dr Yang explained.
These findings suggest that thigh circumference could potentially be used as a convenient and inexpensive indicator for earlier detection and prevention of high blood pressure and other related complications, such as heart disease, in obese or overweight people.
The researchers now plan to further investigate this association by measuring body composition including thigh fat mass, thigh muscle mass, thigh bone mass and thigh proteins.Different proportions of these components may provide clues to the association between thigh circumference and blood pressure and may help us develop future treatments, the study noted.