Optimal cut-off points for waist circumference in the definition of metabolic syndrome in Brazilian adults: baseline analyses of the Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil)

Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2018 Jun 15;10:49. doi: 10.1186/s13098-018-0347-0. eCollection 2018.


Background: Waist circumference (WC) has been incorporated in the definition of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) but the exact WC cut-off points across populations are not clear. The Joint Interim Statement (JIS) suggested possible cut-offs to different populations and ethnic groups. However, the adequacy of these cut-offs to Brazilian adults has been scarcely investigated. The objective of the study is to evaluate possible WC thresholds to be used in the definition of MetS using data from the Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil), a multicenter cohort study of civil servants (35-74 years old) of six Brazilian cities.

Methods: We analyzed baseline data from 14,893 participants (6772 men and 8121 women). A MetS was defined according to the JIS criteria, but excluding WC and thus requiring 2 of the 4 remaining elements. We used restricted cubic spline regression to graph the relationship between WC and MetS. We identified optimal cut-off points which maximized joint sensitivity and specificity (Youden's index) from Receiver Operator Characteristic Curves. We also estimated the C-statistics using logistic regression.

Results: We found no apparent threshold for WC in restricted cubic spline plots. Optimal cut-off for men was 92 cm (2 cm lower than that recommended by JIS for Caucasian/Europids or Sub-Saharan African men), but 2 cm higher than that recommended for ethnic Central and South American. For women, optimal cut-off was 86, 6 cm higher than that recommended for Caucasian/Europids and ethnic Central and South American. Optimal cut-offs did not very across age groups and most common race/color categories (except for Asian men, 87 cm).

Conclusions: Sex-specific cut-offs for WC recommended by JIS differ from optimal cut-offs we found for adult men and women of Brazil´s most common ethnic groups.

Keywords: Cut-off point; Metabolic syndrome; Waist circumference.