Abdominal Obesity and Ethnicity
- Cutoff points for abdominal obesity vary by gender, ethnicity and also country. Asians tend to have more metabolic abnormalities at lower waist circumference (WC) than whites.1
- Even among whites, substantial risk of premature coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs at WC of > 90 cm and underscores the dangers of abdominal obesity.
- Previously, several studies in Japan have found optimum waist circumference for abdominal obesity to be 85 to 90 cm in men and 80 cm in women.2, 3 The optimum WC among Chinese has been found to be 80 cm for both men and women.4
- Several expert bodies after reviewing the studies in various Asian countries have proposed lower cutpoints for all Asians including Asian Indians that are 8 cm lower for women and 12cm lower for men than Europids. The cutpoints recommended in Asians is 80cm (31.5inches) in women and 90cm (35.4 inches) in men as opposed to 88cm (34.6 inches) in Europid women and 102cm (40 inches) in Europid men.5-8
- In sharp contrast to Asians, at any given level of BMI, blacks have less visceral fat compared with whites.9 Despite a higher BMI among blacks overall, the WC among black men is 4 cm smaller than in white men but 5 cm larger in black women compared with white women.10
- Measures of adiposity in childhood and adolescence were significantly higher in white children compared to black children, when adjusted for BMI and age.11
- At a given waist size, Indians have greater dyslipidemia, diabetes, and heart disease than do Europids and other Asians. Studies in India have shown the optimum waist circumference for cardiometabolic risk was 85 – 87 cm for men and 80 – 82 cm for women.12, 13
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11. Sisson SB, Katzmarzyk PT, Srinivasan SR, et al. Ethnic differences in subcutaneous adiposity and waist girth in children and adolescents. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md. Nov 2009;17(11):2075-2081.
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