BMI and waist circumference can predict CVD risk

22/02/2011

A new study has concluded that body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, when accurately measured by trained staff, can actually predict the risk of fatal and non-fatal disease cardiovascular disease (CVD) (Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil 2009; doi: 10.1097/HJR.0b013e328331dfc0). The findings, which emerged from a large prospective study of more than 20,000 Dutch men and women aged 20-65 years begun in 1993, show that the associations of BMI and waist circumference with heart disease are equally strong, and explain one half of all fatal and one quarter of non-fatal CVD in those who are overweight and obese.

Previous studies have been based on self-reported data and have frequently underestimated the true prevalence of obesity. For a true estimation of the association, accurate "anthropometric" measurements are necessary. Using these, the Netherlands group professionally measured both BMI and waist circumference (as well as other variables) in a cohort of 20,500 men and women. All subjects in the study were linked to hospital discharge and national cause-of-death records – with only 556 lost to follow-up.

When age-adjusted BMI and waist circumference measurements were correlated with hospital records and cause-of-death statistics, results showed that in those categorised as overweight and obese around one half (53%) of all fatal CVD and one quarter (25-30%) of all non-fatal CVD were ascribed to the fact that the individual was overweight or obese.The study also found that the overall risk of a first non-fatal CVD was ten times higher than that of fatal CVD.

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