Thick Hips And Thighs Linked To Lower All-Cause Mortality, Study Says

Thick thighs, it turns out, really might save lives.

Originally Published: 
A man with thick thighs on a run outdoors.
Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography/Getty

As it turns out, thick thighs might actually save lives. According to a recent study, which included some 2.5 million participants, people who are thick in the hips and thighs actually have a lower mortality risk than their thigh gap counterparts. The study also found that the more fat you carry around your belly, the more likely you are to die early of any cause, even if you don’t have a lot of body fat in general.

Over the course of the study, researchers had participants measure key parts of their body like waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and a body shape metric — these tend to be key metrics of fatness. They found that as little as a four-inch increase in waist circumference was associated with an 11% higher risk of all-cause mortality, meaning death from any cause, whereas a four-inch increase in hip circumference was associated with a 10% lower risk of all-cause mortality. A two-inch increase in thigh circumference was associated with an 18% lower risk.

Researchers suggest that when hips and thighs grow, that’s not just an indication of the growth of body fat, but also an indicator of the amount of muscle in the powerhouse known as the lower body. A thicker waist has long been associated with harmful health conditions such as diabetes and heart attack, whereas pear-shaped bodies — i.e. bodies with thick thighs and hips — are associated with more positive markers of health.

Belly fat, the findings suggest, is a more important indicator of health than weight alone, making BMI a less valuable indicator of health than exactly where fat is distributed on the body.

All in all, everyone should focus on a healthy diet and regular exercise and movement throughout their daily lives — there’s no replacement for healthy living. And remember that healthy people come in all shapes, sizes, and body types. So, eat some fruit and vegetables, drink water, and walk regularly, stubborn belly fat or thick hips be damned.

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