Defining Abdominal Obesity as a Risk Factor for Coronary Heart Disease in the U.S.: Results From the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL)

Diabetes Care. 2020 Aug;43(8):1774-1780. doi: 10.2337/dc19-1855. Epub 2020 Jun 19.


Objective: Various organizations have highlighted the need to examine whether abdominal obesity cut points are appropriate for identification of cardiovascular risk among ethnic minority adults, particularly Hispanic/Latino adults living in Western societies. This study aimed 1) to establish optimal definitions for abdominal obesity among Hispanics/Latinos and 2) to determine the level of agreement between the presence of metabolic syndrome diagnosed by the current Joint Interim Statement (JIS) definition and an updated definition with optimal abdominal obesity cut points.

Research design and methods: The sample included 16,289 adults who self-identified as Hispanic/Latino ages 18-74 years enrolled in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to derive sensitivity and specificity values. The largest sum of sensitivity plus specificity was used to determine appropriate cut points.

Results: Among U.S. Hispanic/Latino adults, waist circumference cut points of >102 cm in men (in line with current JIS criteria) and >97 cm (9 points higher than JIS criteria) in women provide optimal discrimination for cardiovascular risk as judged by the presence of coronary heart disease. When using these cut points to create an updated metabolic syndrome definition among women, we found disagreement between our updated definition and the current JIS criteria. The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was overestimated by ∼5 percentage points among women based on JIS criteria in comparison with our definition.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the current recommendations for waist circumference cut points may not be appropriate for U.S. Hispanic/Latino women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis
  • Coronary Disease / ethnology
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Endocrine / standards
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Metabolic Syndrome / ethnology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Abdominal / complications*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / diagnosis*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / ethnology*
  • Prevalence
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Terminology as Topic
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference / physiology
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • figshare/10.2337/figshare.12241073