Is the association of type II diabetes with waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio stronger than that with body mass index?

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jan;64(1):30-4. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2009.93. Epub 2009 Sep 2.


In total, 17 prospective and 35 cross-sectional studies in adults aged 18-74 years, with the aim of comparing betweenbody mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) in their relation to the incidence and prevalence of type II diabetes, were reviewed. Among these studies, only a few have used C-statistic, paired homogeneity test or log-likelihood ratio test for formally comparing the differences. Five prospective studies, in which formal statistic tests have been made, came out with inconsistent findings: two results were in favour of WC in Mexicans African Americanss, respectively, one result was in favour of BMI in Pima Indians, and no difference was found in the other 2 studies. Among the 11 cross-sectional studies that have formally tested the differences, most found a higher odds ratio or slightly larger area under the ROC curve (AUC) for WC than for BMI. A meta-analysis based on the individual data of the Asian cohorts using a paired homogeneity test showed, however, that there was no difference in odds ratio between BMI and WC in Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mongolian and Filipino men. In conclusion, all studies included in this review showed that either BMI or WC (WHR) predicted or was associated with type II diabetes independently, regardless of the controversial findings on which of these obesity indicators is better.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Area Under Curve
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Waist Circumference*
  • Waist-Hip Ratio*
  • Young Adult