Context: To date, it is unclear which measure of obesity is the most appropriate for risk stratification.
Objective: The aim of the study was to compare the associations of various measures of obesity with incident cardiovascular events and mortality.
Design and setting: We analyzed two German cohort studies, the DETECT study and SHIP, including primary care and general population.
Participants: A total of 6355 (mean follow-up, 3.3 yr) and 4297 (mean follow-up, 8.5 yr) individuals participated in DETECT and SHIP, respectively.
Interventions: We measured body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and assessed cardiovascular and all-cause mortality and the composite endpoint of incident stroke, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular death.
Results: In both studies, we found a positive association of the composite endpoint with WHtR but not with BMI. There was no heterogeneity among studies. The relative risks in the highest versus the lowest sex- and age-specific quartile of WHtR, WC, WHR, and BMI after adjustment for multiple confounders were as follows in the pooled data: cardiovascular mortality, 2.75 (95% confidence interval, 1.31-5.77), 1.74 (0.84-3.6), 1.71 (0.91-3.22), and 0.74 (0.35-1.57), respectively; all-cause mortality, 1.86 (1.25-2.76), 1.62 (1.22-2.38), 1.36 (0.93-1.69), and 0.77 (0.53-1.13), respectively; and composite endpoint, 2.16 (1.39-3.35), 1.59 (1.04-2.44), 1.49 (1.07-2.07), and 0.57 (0.37-0.89), respectively. Separate analyses of sex and age groups yielded comparable results. Receiver operating characteristics analysis yielded the highest areas under the curve for WHtR for predicting these endpoints.
Conclusions: WHtR represents the best predictor of cardiovascular risk and mortality, followed by WC and WHR. Our results discourage the use of the BMI.