Which is the best anthropometric technique to identify obesity: body mass index, waist circumference or waist-hip ratio?

Coll Antropol. 2007 Jun;31(2):387-93.


This study was designed to define the most suitable anthropometric technique among body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist-hip ratio (WHR) as indices of obesity in adult people living in Adana, a Southern province of Turkey. A random sample design was used. A total of 900 individuals (men and non-pregnant women aged 25-65 years) were enrolled in the study. Of subjects, 50.9% were females. Anthropometric measurements were performed. Data were analysed using statistical package program. The prevalence of obesity among adults living in Adana was 20.8% 28.4% when defined using BMI, 30.5% by WC and 15.8% 42.0% by WHR. Truncal obesity and gynoid obesity showed similar prevalence with 26.6%, in the same age group. Waist circumference, BMI and WHR identified different proportions of the population, as measured for obesity prevalence. The most common methods for diagnosing overweight and obesity are based on BMI (kg/m2). However, BMI is suboptimal marker for total body fat percentage and even less suitable to assess body fat distribution. WHR is the most useful measure of obesity and the best simple anthropometric index in predicting a wide range of risk factors and related health conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diagnosis*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Turkey
  • Waist-Hip Ratio*