Different anthropometric adiposity measures and their association with cardiovascular disease risk factors: a meta-analysis

Neth Heart J. 2012 May;20(5):208-18. doi: 10.1007/s12471-011-0237-7.


Objectives: To investigate which anthropometric adiposity measure has the strongest association with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in Caucasian men and women without a history of CVD.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods: We searched databases for studies reporting correlations between anthropometric adiposity measures and CVD risk factors in Caucasian subjects without a history of CVD. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio and body fat percentage were considered the anthropometric adiposity measures. Primary CVD risk factors were: systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting glucose. Two independent reviewers performed abstract, full text and data selection.

Results: Twenty articles were included describing 21,618 males and 24,139 females. Waist circumference had the strongest correlation with all CVD risk factors for both men and women, except for HDL and LDL in men. When comparing BMI with waist circumference, the latter showed significantly better correlations to CVD risk factors, except for diastolic blood pressure in women and HDL and total cholesterol in men.

Conclusions: We recommend the use of waist circumference in clinical and research studies above other anthropometric adiposity measures, especially compared with BMI, when evaluating CVD risk factors.