Objective: To examine the relationship between cigarette smoking habits and fat distribution in a population-based cohort of men and women.
Research methods and procedures: We analyzed cross-sectional data from 21,828 men and women who were 45 to 79 years of age, residents in Norfolk, United Kingdom, and were recruited between 1993 and 1997. Cigarette smoking habits and other lifestyle factors were assessed using self-reported questionnaires. Anthropometric measures were obtained during a health examination.
Results: Waist-hip ratio was highest among current smokers and least among never smokers after adjusting for age, BMI, alcohol intake, total energy intake, physical activity, and education. Higher waist-hip ratio was directly associated with higher smoking pack-years in current and former smokers and inversely with duration since quitting smoking in former smokers. Adjusting for age, BMI, and other covariates, current smokers had higher waist circumference but lower hip circumference compared with former or never smokers.
Discussion: Cigarette smoking habits seem to influence fat distribution patterns. Although smokers have lower mean BMI compared with nonsmokers, they have a more metabolically adverse fat distribution profile, with higher central adiposity. The explanation for this association may help elucidate the mechanisms underlying the adverse health consequences of cigarette smoking and abdominal obesity.