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Obes Res. 2000 Sep;8(6):411-21.

Effects of obesity and body fat distribution on lipids and lipoproteins in nondiabetic American Indians: The Strong Heart Study.

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MedStar Research Institute, Washington, DC 20010, USA.



To examine the relationship between obesity and lipoprotein profiles and compare the effects of total obesity and central adiposity on lipids/lipoproteins in American Indians.


Participants were 773 nondiabetic American Indian women and 739 men aged 45 to 74 years participating in the Strong Heart Study. Total obesity was estimated using body mass index (BMI). Central obesity was measured as waist circumference. Lipoprotein measures included triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, apolipoprotein AI (apoAI), and apolipoprotein B (apoB). Partial and canonical correlation analyses were used to examine the associations between obesity and lipids/ lipoproteins.


Women were more obese than men in Arizona (median BMI 32.1 vs. 29.2 kg/m2) and South Dakota and North Dakota (28.3 vs. 28.0 kg/m2), but there was no sex difference in waist circumference. Men had higher apoB and lower apoAI levels than did women. In women, when adjusted for center, gender, and age, BMI was significantly related to HDL cholesterol (r = -0.24, p < 0.001). There was a significant but weak relation with apoAI (r = -0.14, p < 0.001). Waist circumference was positively related to triglycerides (r = 0.14, p < 0.001) and negatively related to HDL cholesterol (r = -0.23, p < 0.001) and apoAI (r = -0.13, p < 0.001). In men, BMI was positively correlated with triglycerides (r = 0.30, p < 0.001) and negatively correlated with HDL cholesterol (r = -0.35, p < 0.001) and apoAI (r = -0.23, p < 0.001). Triglycerides increased with waist circumference (r = 0.30, p < 0.001) and HDL cholesterol decreased with waist circumference (r = -0.36, p < 0.001). In both women and men there was an inverted U-shaped relationship between obesity and waist with LDL cholesterol and apoB. In canonical correlation analysis, waist circumference received a greater weight (0.86) than did BMI (0.17) in women. However, the canonical weights were similar for waist (0.46) and BMI (0.56) in men. Only HDL cholesterol (-1.02) carried greater weight in women, whereas in men, triglycerides (0.50), and HDL cholesterol (-0.64) carried a large amount of weight. All the correlation coefficients between BMI, waist circumference, and the first canonical variable of lipids/lipoproteins or between the individual lipid/lipoprotein variables and the first canonical variable of obesity were smaller in women than in men. Triglycerides and HDL cholesterol showed clinically meaningful changes with BMI and waist circumference in men. All lipid/lipoprotein changes in women in relation to BMI and waist circumference were minimal.


The main lipoprotein abnormality related to obesity in American Indians was decreased HDL cholesterol, especially in men. Central adiposity was more associated with abnormal lipid/lipoprotein profiles than general obesity in women; both were equally important in men.

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