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Waist-to-height ratio: a simple option for determining excess central adiposity in young people

Abstract

Waist circumference is recommended as a means of identifying people at risk of morbidity associated with central adiposity. Yet, there are no universally agreed cut-points to determine when a waist circumference is too large in young people. In this study we examined the relation between sex- and age-specific waist circumference cut-points, the waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) cut-point of <0.5 and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk clustering in 164 young people, mean age 14.9±0.2 years (mean±s.d.). In total 19 (11.6%) of the sample were identified as having CVD risk clustering. These young people were significantly (P<0.001) heavier and had higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference z-scores compared to those without CVD risk clustering. The WHtR cut-point of 0.5 estimated CVD risk clustering to a similar extent to sex- and age-adjusted cut-points for waist circumference and BMI. Young people with excess central adiposity (WHtR0.5) were 11 times (OR 11.4, P<0.001), more likely to have CVD risk clustering compared to those who did not have excess central adiposity. The WHtR has several advantages; it is easy to calculate, does not require sex- and age-specific centiles and as has been previously suggested, it is a simple message, easily understood by clinicians and families, to ‘keep your waist circumference to less than half your height’.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant no. 206501. Sarah Garnett is supported by an NHMRC Australian Clinical Research Fellowship no. 457225. We thank all the families that generously donated their time to participate in this study.

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Correspondence to S P Garnett.

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Garnett, S., Baur, L. & Cowell, C. Waist-to-height ratio: a simple option for determining excess central adiposity in young people. Int J Obes 32, 1028–1030 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2008.51

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2008.51

Keywords

  • waist circumference
  • waist to height ratio
  • cardiovascular disease risk clustering
  • metabolic syndrome
  • body mass index
  • children

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