Determination of the cutoff point for waist circumference that establishes the presence of abdominal obesity in Latin American men and women

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;93(2):243-247. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2011.05.002. Epub 2011 May 31.


Aims: The recent definitions of the metabolic syndrome (MS) recognize the need for ethnic and region-specific waist circumference (WC) cut-offs that identify people with abdominal obesity. We tested WC as a diagnostic tool to identify people with visceral adiposity in Hispanics from the Latin America region.

Methods: We used the area of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) ≥ 100 cm² at the level between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae in abdominal CT scans as a marker of visceral adiposity and established the optimal WC threshold for men and women by means of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves.

Results: 179 men and 278 women from Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia and Paraguay were included. The ROC curves were highly discriminative of excess VAT for men and women (area under the curve 0.9 and 0.8 respectively) and the WC threshold was identified at 94 cm for men and between 90 and 92 cm for women.

Conclusion: In men the WC cutoff was equal to that proposed for europids and suggested for US adults who may have strong genetic contribution to insulin resistance such as Hispanics. In women the threshold was significantly higher than previously proposed for South and Central Americans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat
  • Latin America
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Abdominal / diagnosis*
  • ROC Curve
  • Reference Standards
  • Sex Factors
  • Waist Circumference / physiology*