Study objective: To determine whether cigarette smoking is associated with central obesity in men and women.
Design: A cross-sectional survey.
Setting: A geographically defined population of older white adults.
Participants: Men (836) and women (1112) ages 50 to 79.
Measurements and main results: Waist-hip circumference ratio and body mass index (weight in kg/height in m2) were measured in participants wearing light clothing without shoes. Past and current cigarette smoking habits were ascertained by a standard self-administered questionnaire. Cigarette smokers had higher waist-hip ratios than non-smokers. We observed a dose-response relation of increasing waist-hip ratio with increasing number of cigarettes smoked. Although smokers were leaner than nonsmokers, the increased waist-hip ratio in smokers was independent of body mass index and was consistent within body-mass index tertiles. The associations, seen in both sexes, were stronger in women.
Conclusions: Cigarette smokers have more central obesity than nonsmokers. These results suggest that body fat distribution can be modified by behavioral factors such as smoking.