Background: Waist circumference (WC) is an accurate and simple measure of abdominal obesity as compared to waist-hip ratio (WHR). The aim of this study was to determine the correlation between body mass index (BMI) with WC and WHR and suggest cutoff points for WC among Rural Malaysian adults.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 669 respondents from three villages in Tanjung Karang, located in the district of Kuala Selangor. Data collection was carried out by guided questionnaires and anthropometric measures.
Results: The prevalence of abdominal obesity for BMI was almost similar for both gender across Caucasian and Asian BMI cutoff points. Based on Caucasian cutoff points, the prevalence of abdominal obesity for WC was 23.8% (male) and 66.4% (female) while for WHR was 6.2% (male) and 54.2% (female). Asian cutoff points gave higher prevalence of abdominal obesity compared to that of WC among male respondents and WHR for both genders. WC showed strong and positive correlation with BMI compared to WHR (in male WC r = 0.78, WHR r = 0.24 and in female WC r = 0.72, WHR r = 0.19; P < 0.001). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis suggested WC cutoff points of 92.5 cm in men and 85.5 cm in women is the optimal number for detection of abdominal obesity.
Conclusions: WC is the best indicator as compared with WHR for abdominal obesity for Malaysian adults.
Keywords: Abdominal obesity; adults; body mass index; waist circumference; waist-to-hip ratio.