Dyslipidemia and abdominal obesity: an assessment in three general populations

J Clin Epidemiol. 2000 Apr;53(4):393-400. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(99)00184-5.


Several studies show a relationship between abdominal obesity and cardiovascular diseases, partially mediated through an altered metabolism of dyslipidemia. The present study was aimed at testing the robustness of this association across three contrasted populations and at assessing the performances of abdominal obesity as a screening tool for dyslipidemia. Data were drawn from three population health surveys recently conducted in two regions of a developed country (Switzerland, mostly of Caucasian origin, n = 2650) and in a less developed country (Seychelles, Indian Ocean, mostly of black descent, n = 806). Dyslipidemia was defined as a ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (TC-HDL) greater than 5. Two anthropometric circumference measurements, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and waist circumference (WC), were used to define abdominal obesity either as WHR >/= 0.9 in men and WHR >/= 0.8 in women or as WC >/= 94 cm and WC >/= 80 cm, respectively. A consistent direct association between abdominal obesity and dyslipidemia (odds ratios varying from 1.85 to 4.56) was found in the three populations, independently of gender, age, body mass index, blood pressure, and smoking. This consistency across ethnicities and environments strengthens the hypothesis of a common etiopathological mechanism. The sensitivity for detecting dyslipidemia was generally higher for abdominal obesity, based on either WHR or WC, than for criteria based on the other risk factors under study. In addition, the sensitivity was higher in the study populations with a low prevalence of dyslipidemia (Swiss women and Seychellois of both sexes) than in the others. These findings support that WHR and WC may be useful as simple and inexpensive screening tools to select individuals eligible for more sophisticated and costly serum lipid determinations, especially in developing countries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood
  • Hyperlipidemias / epidemiology*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Seychelles / epidemiology
  • Switzerland / epidemiology


  • Lipids