Longitudinal association of anthropometric measures of adiposity with cardiometabolic risk factors in postmenopausal women

Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Dec;24(12):896-902. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.10.007.


Purpose: Some studies suggest that anthropometric measures of abdominal obesity may be superior to body mass index (BMI) for the prediction of cardiometabolic risk factors; however, most studies have been cross-sectional. Our aim was to prospectively examine the association of change in BMI, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), waist circumference (WC), and waist circumference-to-height ratio (WCHtR) with change in markers of cardiometabolic risk in a population of postmenopausal women.

Methods: We used a subsample of participants in the Women's Health Initiative aged 50 to 79 years at entry with available fasting blood samples and anthropometric measurements obtained at multiple time points over 12.8 years of follow-up (n = 2672). The blood samples were used to measure blood glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglycerides at baseline, and at years 1, 3, and 6. We conducted mixed-effects linear regression analyses to examine associations at baseline and longitudinal associations between change in anthropometric measures and change in cardiometabolic risk factors, adjusting for covariates.

Results: In longitudinal analyses, change in BMI, WC, and WCHtR robustly predicted change in cardiometabolic risk, whereas change in WHR did not. The strongest associations were seen for change in triglycerides, glucose, and HDL-C (inverse association).

Conclusion: Increase in BMI, WC, and WCHtR strongly predicted increases in serum triglycerides and glucose, and reduced HDL-C. WC and WCHtR were superior to BMI in predicting serum glucose, HDL-C, and triglycerides. WCHtR was superior to WC only in predicting serum glucose. BMI, WC, and WCHtR were all superior to WHR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Abdominal / blood*
  • Postmenopause / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Triglycerides