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Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):38-44.

Prospective study of abdominal adiposity and gallstone disease in US men.

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  • 1Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



Obesity is an established risk factor for gallstones, but whether abdominal adiposity contributes independently to the risk, particularly in men, remains unclear.


The purpose of the study was to examine the associations of abdominal circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, as measures of abdominal adiposity, with the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men.


We prospectively studied measures of abdominal obesity in relation to the incidence of symptomatic gallstone disease in a cohort of 29 847 men who were free of prior gallstone disease and who provided complete data on waist and hip circumferences. Data on weight, height, and waist and hip circumferences were collected in 1986 and in 1987 through self-administered questionnaires. As part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, men reported newly diagnosed symptomatic gallstone disease on questionnaires mailed to them every 2 y.


We documented 1117 new cases of symptomatic gallstone disease during 264 185 person-years of follow-up. After adjustment for body mass index and other known or suspected risk factors for gallstones, men with a height-adjusted waist circumference > or = 102.6 cm (40.4 in) had a relative risk of 2.29 (95% CI: 1.69, 3.11; P for trend < 0.001) compared with men with a height-adjusted waist circumference < 86.4 cm (34 in). Men with a waist-to-hip ratio > or = 0.99 had a multivariate relative risk of 1.78 (1.38, 2.28; P for trend < 0.001) compared with men with a waist-to-hip ratio < 0.89.


Our data suggest the presence of a significant association between abdominal adiposity and the incidence of symptomatic gallstone disease. As measures of abdominal adiposity, abdominal circumference and waist-to-hip ratio predict the risk of developing gallstones independently of body mass index.

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