Background: Waist circumference (WC) adjusted for body mass index (BMI) is positively associated with mortality, but the association with changes in WC is less clear. We investigated the association between changes in WC and mortality in middle-aged men and women, and evaluated the influence from concurrent changes in BMI.
Methodology/principal findings: Data on 26,625 healthy men and women from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study was analyzed. WC and BMI were assessed in 1993-97 and in 1999-02. Information on mortality was obtained by linkage to the Danish central Person Register. Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated with Cox regression models. During 6.7 years of follow-up, 568 and 361 deaths occurred among men and women, respectively. Changes in WC were positively associated with mortality (HR per 5 cm for the sexes combined = 1.09 (1.02 : 1.16) with adjustment for covariates, baseline WC, BMI and changes in BMI), whereas changes in BMI were inversely associated with mortality (HR per kg/m2 for the sexes combined = 0.91 (0.86, 0.97) with adjustment for covariates, baseline WC, BMI and changes in WC). Associations between changes in WC and mortality were not notably different in sub-groups stratified according to changes in BMI, baseline WC or when smokers or deaths occurring within the first years of follow-up were excluded.
Conclusions/significance: Changes in WC were positively associated with mortality in healthy middle-aged men and women throughout the range of concurrent changes in BMI. These findings suggest a need for development of prevention and treatment strategies targeted against redistribution of fat mass towards the abdominal region.