The contribution of obesity to the population burden of high metabolic cardiovascular risk among different ethnic groups. The HELIUS study

Eur J Public Health. 2020 Apr 1;30(2):322-327. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckz190.

Abstract

Background: The burden of cardiovascular risk is distributed unequally between ethnic groups. It is uncertain to what extent this is attributable to ethnic differences in general and abdominal obesity. Therefore, we studied the contribution of general and abdominal obesity to metabolic cardiovascular risk among different ethnic groups.

Methods: We used data of 21 411 participants of Dutch, South-Asian Surinamese, African-Surinamese, Ghanaian, Turkish or Moroccan origin in Healthy Life in an Urban Setting (Amsterdam, the Netherlands). Obesity was defined using body-mass-index (general) or waist-to-height-ratio (abdominal). High metabolic risk was defined as having at least two of the following: triglycerides ≥1.7 mmol/l, fasting glucose ≥5.6 mmol/l, blood pressure ≥130 mmHg systolic and/or ≥85 mmHg diastolic and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol <1.03 mmol/l (men) or <1.29 mmol/l (women).

Results: Among ethnic minority men, age-adjusted prevalence rates of high metabolic risk ranged from 32 to 59% vs. 33% among Dutch men. Contributions of general obesity to high metabolic risk ranged from 7.1 to 17.8%, vs. 10.1% among Dutch men, whereas contributions of abdominal obesity ranged from 52.1 to 92.3%, vs. 53.9% among Dutch men. Among ethnic minority women, age-adjusted prevalence rates of high metabolic risk ranged from 24 to 35% vs. 12% among Dutch women. Contributions of general obesity ranged from 14.6 to 41.8%, vs. 20% among Dutch women, whereas contributions of abdominal obesity ranged from 68.0 to 92.8%, vs. 72.1% among Dutch women.

Conclusions: Obesity, especially abdominal obesity, contributes significantly to the prevalence of high metabolic cardiovascular risk. Results suggest that this contribution varies substantially between ethnic groups, which helps explain ethnic differences in cardiovascular risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors