Background: The International Diabetes Federation consensus recently proposed a new definition for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, incorporating ethnically specific waist circumference (WC) cutoff points.
Objective: We investigated the ethnically appropriate WC cutoff values for central obesity in Korean adults to predict increased risk of elevated triacylglycerol, reduced HDL cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting plasma glucose, or two or more of these factors.
Design: We used data from 6561 adults, aged 20-80 years, who participated in the Korean Health and Nutritional Examination Survey of 1998, a cross-sectional health survey of a nationally representative sample of Koreans.
Results: Based on the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, the WC value for predicting metabolic risk factors in Koreans was about 85 cm for men and 80 cm for women. The odds ratio for the risk of two or more metabolic risk factors increased abruptly in men with WC >or= 90 cm and women with WC >or= 85 cm. The 80th percentile for WC in the Korean population was 90 cm for men and 86.5 cm for women. Thus, the appropriate WC cutoff point for central obesity in Koreans was determined to be 90 cm for men and 85 cm for women.
Conclusions: Based on our criteria, the prevalence of central obesity was 19.8% in Korean men and 24.5% in Korean women. These findings suggest the applicability of ethnically specific cutoff points for WC in assessing central obesity.