Bigger thighs are better for health
People whose thighs measure at least 23.6in (60cm) in circumference were less likely to develop heart disease or die early, a 12-year study of almost 3,000 men and women in Denmark found.
Professor Berit Heitmann said thigh size could be used by GPs as "an early marker to identify patients at later risk of cardiovascular disease and early mortality".
"A small thigh circumference was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases and total mortality in both men and women," he said.
"A threshold effect for thigh circumference was evident, with greatly increased risk of premature death below around 60cm."
He added: "The fact that more than half of the men and women aged 35-65 have thigh circumference below the threshold is worrying."
The Monica (monitoring trends in and determinants of cardiovascular disease) project, published online on bmj.com, found there was no added protective effect for people with thighs in excess of 60cm.
Body fat and other high risk factors such as smoking and high cholesterol were taken into account by the study.
Prof Heitmann, director of the research unit for dietary studies at Copenhagen University Hospital, said: "The adverse effects of small thighs might be related to too little muscle mass in the region."