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Int J Epidemiol. 1990 Jun;19(2):303-8.

Fat distribution in European women: a comparison of anthropometric measurements in relation to cardiovascular risk factors.

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Department of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, The Netherlands.


In this study in 437 women born in 1948 selected from five European towns we show that several anthropometric measurements are consistently and significantly associated with a metabolic risk profile in premenopausal women of 38 years of age. Among the circumferences, breast and waist circumference were, after adjustment for body mass index positively correlated with diastolic blood pressure, serum total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol (negative associations), serum triglycerides, and serum insulin. The optimal level for measuring waist circumference was determined as being midway between the lower rib margin and the superior anterior iliac crest. Circumference ratios generally did show less consistent and similar or lower correlations with diastolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol and serum insulin. Waist/thigh circumference ratio showed the strongest partial associations with HDL-cholesterol and serum triglycerides among all anthropometric variables studied. The authors conclude that, independently of the degree of fatness, indicators of truncal fat distribution (in the region of the breast as well as the abdomen) are related to an unfavourable risk profile in European premenopausal women. The study gives a rationale for selecting the most informative anthropometric measurements to be added to height and weight in epidemiological studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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