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Comparison of the associations of body mass index and measures of central adiposity and fat mass with coronary heart disease, diabetes, and all-cause mortality: a study using data from 4 UK cohorts

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - January 20, 2010 Authors: Amy E Taylor, Shah Ebrahim, Yoav Ben-Shlomo, Richard M Martin, Peter H Whincup, John W Yarnell, S Goya Wannamethee, and Debbie A Lawlor

BMI has been used for decades to identify individuals/populations at risk for future CVD and diabetes. Recently it has been criticized as a measure of risk because it not only reflects both fat and lean mass, but because it does not identify fat distribution.

This study looks at using measures of regional adiposity (waist circumference, waist/hip ratio, etc.) as a proposed alternative to using BMI for identifying persons at risk for future disease.

Although there was some statistical evidence suggesting that measurements of central adiposity were more strongly associated with diabetes than was BMI in the women tested, this was not the case in the men tested, nor was there similar evidence with CVD. However, the overall results indicated that there was no strong evidence to support replacing BMI in clinical or public health practice with other adiposity measures.

Bottomline: The results suggest that both methods are similar in their effectiveness in identifying risk, so it doesn not seem to matter which method is chosen, as long as we continue to identify risk early in order to prevent disease.

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