Background: The normal-weight BMI range (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) includes adults with body shape and cardiometabolic disease risk features of excess adiposity, although a distinct phenotype developed on a large and diverse sample is lacking.
Objective: To identify demographic, behavioral, body composition, and health-risk biomarker characteristics of people in the normal-weight BMI range who are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases based on body shape.
Methods: Six nationally representative waist circumference index (WCI, weight/height0.5) prediction formulas, with BMI and age as covariates, were developed using data from 17,359 non-Hispanic (NH) white, NH black, and Mexican-American NHANES 1999-2006 participants. These equations were then used to predict WCI in 5594 NHANES participants whose BMI was within the normal weight range. Men and women in each race/Hispanic-origin group were then separated into high, medium, and low tertiles based on the difference (residual) between measured and predicted WCI. Characteristics were compared across tertiles; P values for significance were adjusted for multiple comparisons.
Results: Men and women in the high WCI residual tertile, relative to their BMI and age-equivalent counterparts in the low tertile, had significantly lower activity levels; higher percent trunk and total body fat (e.g. NH white men, X ± SE, 25.3 ± 0.2% compared with 20.4 ± 0.2%); lower percent appendicular lean mass (skeletal muscle) and bone mineral content; and higher plasma insulin and triglycerides, higher homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (e.g. NH white men, 1.45 ± 0.07 compared with 1.08 ± 0.06), and lower plasma HDL cholesterol. Percent leg fat was also significantly higher in men but lower in women. Similar patterns of variable statistical significance were present within sex and race/ethnic groups.
Conclusions: Cardiometabolic disease risk related to body shape in people who are normal weight according to BMI is characterized by a distinct phenotype that includes potentially modifiable behavioral health risk factors.
Keywords: body composition; body shape; chronic disease; obesity; waist circumference.
Copyright © The Author(s) on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition 2020.