Objective: To identify which of the three simple anthropometric indices, body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and waist circumference (WC), best predicts cardiovascular risk factors, and to determine if the association between the anthropometric indices and cardiovascular risk factors varies with gender.
Design and methodology: A cross-sectional population-based survey was carried out during 1995-1996. One thousand and ten Chinese people (500 men and 510 women) aged 25-74 y were recruited as subjects for the study. Metabolic profiles and anthropometric indices were measured.
Results: Partial correlation and co-variance analyses showed that WC exhibited the highest degree of association with almost all of the studied metabolic profiles for both men and women. We observed significant gender differences in the association between central or general obesity with cardiovascular risk factors. BMI had an independent and significant association with metabolic risks in men, but not in women, whereas WHR was more strongly correlated with metabolic risks for women than for men. Logistic regression analysis further confirmed the magnitude of the association between the obesity indices and metabolic risks. Among the studied metabolic variables, serum insulin showed the highest degree of association with the obesity indices, followed by plasma glucose, triglyceride, HDL and blood pressure. Total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol had a small but significant correlation with obesity. No threshold values in the relation between either the anthropometric indices and metabolic values, or with hypertension, diabetes and dislipidemia were observed.
Conclusion: The association of central or general obesity and metabolic syndrome varied with gender. In addition, the useful anthropometric predictors for cardiovascular risk factors were BMI and WC for men, and WC and WHR for women.