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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Apr;95(4):1777-85. doi: 10.1210/jc.2009-1584. Epub 2010 Feb 3.

The predictive value of different measures of obesity for incident cardiovascular events and mortality.

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  • 1Medizinische Klinik-Innenstadt, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Ziemssenstrasse 1, 80336 Munich, Germany.



To date, it is unclear which measure of obesity is the most appropriate for risk stratification.


The aim of the study was to compare the associations of various measures of obesity with incident cardiovascular events and mortality.


We analyzed two German cohort studies, the DETECT study and SHIP, including primary care and general population.


A total of 6355 (mean follow-up, 3.3 yr) and 4297 (mean follow-up, 8.5 yr) individuals participated in DETECT and SHIP, respectively.


We measured body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and assessed cardiovascular and all-cause mortality and the composite endpoint of incident stroke, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular death.


In both studies, we found a positive association of the composite endpoint with WHtR but not with BMI. There was no heterogeneity among studies. The relative risks in the highest versus the lowest sex- and age-specific quartile of WHtR, WC, WHR, and BMI after adjustment for multiple confounders were as follows in the pooled data: cardiovascular mortality, 2.75 (95% confidence interval, 1.31-5.77), 1.74 (0.84-3.6), 1.71 (0.91-3.22), and 0.74 (0.35-1.57), respectively; all-cause mortality, 1.86 (1.25-2.76), 1.62 (1.22-2.38), 1.36 (0.93-1.69), and 0.77 (0.53-1.13), respectively; and composite endpoint, 2.16 (1.39-3.35), 1.59 (1.04-2.44), 1.49 (1.07-2.07), and 0.57 (0.37-0.89), respectively. Separate analyses of sex and age groups yielded comparable results. Receiver operating characteristics analysis yielded the highest areas under the curve for WHtR for predicting these endpoints.


WHtR represents the best predictor of cardiovascular risk and mortality, followed by WC and WHR. Our results discourage the use of the BMI.

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