Though obesity raises blood clot risk, location of obesity seems to play a good role, along with gender. For blood clots, women have higher risk with extra fat in the hips, and men have higher risk with extra fat in the waist.
This higher risk of blood clots, relative to excess fat in the waist versus hips, pertains to middle-aged people, but affects genders differently. The research is reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association (2009). The study spanned 10 years, and researchers investigated the link between weight distribution, body mass, and prevalence of venous blood clots (VTE) among over 29,000 women and over 27,000 men (age range 50-64 at beginning of study).
Over the 10 years, 641 venous blood clots occurred. Blood clots were associated with body weight, body mass index, total body fat mass, hip circumference, and waist circumference, for women and men.
VTEs come in different types, and these associations were the same regardless of blood clot type. For women, there was a positive relationship between hip circumference and blood clots; and for men, the blood clot positive association applied to waist girth. And it didn’t matter if the men or women exercised, smoked, had diabetes, high blood pressure, poor lipids or were short or tall.
Body mass index usually indicates accurately body fat content in adults. Exceptions are when a person has a lot of muscle mass, as this skewers the BMI reading; a svelte athlete with low body fat may actually have a BMI in the “overweight” category.
Nevertheless, BMI doesn’t indicate distribution of body fat. It is not true that any type of obesity raises blood clot risk. What’s true is that distribution of body fat is involved. Previous research supports the idea that bigger hip circumference protects against blood clots. However, this Danish study opposes that. More studies are warranted to explain the underlying mechanisms of these positive associations.
If this all sounds confusing, here is what you should do: Lose fat. I’m a certified personal trainer. Whether you have excess waist fat or excess fat in the hip region, lose it. Review your eating habits.
Do you snack mindlessly, when you’re not hungry? What do you usually snack on? Sugary foods? How much soda do you drink daily? How much structured, deliberate exercise do you do every day? Do you often make excuses for not exercising? Do you often believe you get “plenty of exercise” simply because you’re on your feet all day at work or “chase after” kids all day? It’s simple: If you don’t perform deliberate, structured exercise, then get hopping. And cut down on the sugar. Blood clots kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.