Measurement of abdominal fat by CT compared to waist circumference and BMI in explaining the presence of coronary calcium

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Dec;28(12):1594-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802796.


Objective: To evaluate the association between standard and computed tomography (CT)-based measures of obesity and subclinical atherosclerosis, defined as coronary artery calcium (CAC) by Electron Beam Computed Tomography (EBCT).

Design: Cross-sectional, observational study of anthropometric and CT obesity measures and presence of CAC.

Subjects: Participants were 383 men and 379 women, aged 20-58 y and asymptomatic for coronary artery disease (CAD).

Measurements: Intra-abdominal fat (IAF) and subcutaneous fat (SQF) were measured at the level of lumbar 2-3 and 4-5 spaces, using EBCT. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from height and weight, and minimum waist circumference and maximum hip circumference were measured. CAC was measured by EBCT.

Results: In both men and women, BMI, waist circumference, IAF, and SQF were significantly related to CAC. However, BMI or waist circumference explained variation in the presence of CAC as well as IAF or SQF, univariately and after adjustment for additional cardiovascular risk factors.

Conclusion: CT-based obesity exposure measures are not superior to BMI or waist circumference in association studies of subclinical CAD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Wall* / pathology
  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Mass Index
  • Calcium / analysis
  • Coronary Artery Disease / etiology*
  • Coronary Vessels / chemistry
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / diagnostic imaging*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Radiography, Abdominal
  • Sex Distribution
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Waist-Hip Ratio


  • Calcium