Between body mass index (BMI) ≥30 and waist circumference (WC) ≥102/88cm, we investigated which of the two measures is a better predictor of two of the most common chronic diseases - diabetes mellitus and hypertension while also examining differential association by gender, age group, and race/ethnicity. Meta-analysis was conducted for all longitudinal studies with at least 12months of follow-up published up to April 2015. Ratio of relative risk (rRR) and relative risk of diseases were computed and compared by baseline obesity measurement. The final sample included 23 longitudinal observation studies involving 62 study arms with 259,200 individuals. WC≥102/88cm was a better predictor than BMI≥30 for development of diabetes (rRR=0.81, 95% CI=0.68-0.96), but not for hypertension (rRR=0.92, 95% CI=0.80-1.06). Subgroup analyses showed WC≥102/88cm was a better predictor for diabetes in women than men, and for ages 60 and older than other ages. Only WC≥102/88cm, not BMI≥30, predicted development of hypertension among Hispanic/Latinos. Neither BMI≥30 nor WC≥102/88cm were significant predictors of hypertension when age group was controlled. Central obesity may be a more serious risk factor for diabetes development in women and for older ages. The predictive power of BMI≥30 or WC≥102/88cm in hypertension development should not be emphasized as either could mask the effect of age.
Keywords: Diabetes; Hypertension; Waist circumference.
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