Aims: To assess whether four proxy measures of abdominal obesity (waist circumference; waist-to-hip ratio (WHR); waist-to-height ratio and C index, a measure of body shape) were uniformly associated with features of the metabolic syndrome (triglycerides, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, 2-h glucose) in three ethnic groups.
Methods: Anthropometric and biochemical data were collected in 629 Europeans (320 men, 309 women), 380 Chinese (183 men, 197 women) and 597 South Asians (275 men, 322 women) aged 25-64 years in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Linear regression models were used to determine whether relationships differed between ethnic groups.
Results: Linear regression analysis showed that most proxy measures of abdominal obesity were associated with features of the metabolic syndrome. There were significant interactions between WHR and ethnicity and C index and ethnicity in the relationship with log triglycerides when comparing European and Chinese women. Interactions existed between all proxy measures and ethnicity in the relationship with log triglycerides and HDL cholesterol when comparing European and South Asian women. In men, interactions between ethnicity and waist circumference, WHR and C index when comparing Europeans and South Asians, and between ethnicity and WHR and C index when comparing South Asian and Chinese for log 2-h glucose were significant (P < 0.001). All interactions remained significant when differences in smoking, alcohol and physical activity were taken into account.
Conclusions: Not all the proxy measures of abdominal obesity were consistently related to features of the metabolic syndrome across the ethnic groups studied. However, waist circumference and waist to height ratio were the most consistent and WHR the least when comparing across the ethnic groups.