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J Am Diet Assoc. 1999 Nov;99(11):1373-9.

Diet and waist-to-hip ratio: important predictors of lipoprotein levels in sedentary and active young men with no evidence of cardiovascular disease.

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Lipid Clinic, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ontario, Canada.



Healthy, young men were studied to determine the relationship of energy and nutrient intake and physical activity to concentrations of plasma lipoprotein and cholesteryl ester transfer protein.


A cross-sectional study compared active and sedentary male subjects (17 to 35 years old) with no personal or family history of coronary heart disease. Participants kept 20-day food and activity journals. Individual intakes of energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, and alcohol were evaluated. Measurements of blood lipids (total cholesterol and triglycerides, high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol); apolipoproteins; cholesteryl ester transfer protein; anthropometric variables (body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, percentage of body fat); and aerobic capacity were taken during fall and spring data collection periods. SUBJECT SELECTION: Subjects were selected on the basis of normal blood lipid levels, absence of underlying disease, and willingness to comply with their current level of physical activity for the duration of the study. Minimal sample size for statistical power was 12 men per group: 12 of 15 subjects who exercised and 13 of 15 subjects who were sedentary completed all phases of the study.


Statistical analyses consisted of 2-way analysis of variance (activity level and season). Pearson product moment correlations and multiple regression analyses were conducted to assess whether energy and nutrient intakes, physical activity status, and/or anthropometric variables predicted plasma concentrations of lipids and apolipoproteins.


Lower waist-to-hip ratio, and not specifically activity level, was associated with higher levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). Dietary intake of saturated and monounsaturated fats and alcohol predicted changes in some apolipoprotein and lipoprotein levels.


Use of waist-to-hip ratio in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease is a simple and cost-effective measure to predict development of abnormal lipoprotein profiles in young men. Specific dietary recommendations include adoption of a heart-healthy diet with emphasis on monounsaturated fatty acids (10% to 12% of energy or one third of total fat intake) and the suggestion that small amounts of alcohol (< 3 drinks per week) may, indeed, be beneficial. Because alcohol and waist-to-hip ratio were both important predictors of LDL-C level, even in active young men, the consumption of low levels of alcohol may be beneficial only if waist-to-hip ratio is maintained within the healthful range by achieving an appropriate balance of physical activity and macronutrient intake.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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