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Am J Epidemiol. 2000 Jan 1;151(1):88-97.

Body mass index and cardiovascular risk factors in a rural Chinese population.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The metabolic consequences of obesity are well-documented in Western populations. However, limited data are available on the association between body mass index (BMI) and cardiovascular risk factors in developing countries. The authors therefore examined the association between BMI and cardiovascular risk factors in a very lean population in China. A total of 2,542 subjects aged 20-70 years from a rural area of Anqing, China, participated in a cross-sectional survey, and 1,610 provided blood samples in 1993. Mean BMI (kg/m2) was 20.7 for men and 20.9 for women. After adjustment for age, sex, education level, occupation, current alcohol use, and cigarette smoking, BMI was significantly associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressures (p < 0.0001). The adjusted odds ratio for hypertension (systolic pressure > or =140 mmHg or diastolic pressure > or = 90 mmHg) across quintiles of BMI (quintile medians: 18.0, 19.4, 20.6, 21.8, and 24.0) were 1.0, 1.34, 2.46, 2.61, and 4.90 (95% confidence interval: 3.20, 7.50). A higher BMI was directly associated with higher levels of serum total cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting glucose and lower levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol. These data from a very lean Chinese population confirm independent relations between body mass and cardiovascular risk factors observed in predominantly overweight Western populations and extend the range of associations to lower BMI levels than do previous studies.

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