Thick thighs may protect health, from the Harvard Men’s Health Watch

Obesity may soon overtake smoking as the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. But not all body fat is created equal, reports the January 2012 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch. Fat located around the body's internal organs (visceral fat) is much more dangerous than fat layered beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat), and abdominal fat is more hazardous than lower body fat. But can some types of fat actually promote health?

Until recently, doctors assumed that even if lower body fat is less dangerous than upper body fat, it's no bargain on its own. But new research offers some unexpected news about ample thighs: without questioning the fact that upper body fat is a formidable foe, the research raises the startling possibility that lower body fat may be associated with a lower risk for some diseases.

Danish scientists evaluated 2,816 men and women ages 35 to 65 who were free of heart disease, stroke, and cancer when they joined the study in the late '80s. Each participant provided a detailed health history and each underwent comprehensive examinations that included measurements of height and weight and thigh, hip, and waist circumferences, as well as body fat percentage.

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