Obesity indices and major components of metabolic syndrome in young adult Arab subjects

Iqbal A R Al-Shayji, Abayomi O Akanji
Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2004, 48 (1): 1-7

BACKGROUND: The major components of metabolic syndrome are atherogenic dyslipidaemia (AD) and insulin resistance (IR), and both predict risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease even in healthy individuals.

AIMS: To assess if, in a group of healthy young adult Arab subjects, a simple classification in high and normal scores on waist-hip ratio (WHR), body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) scales could predict atherogenic parameters for metabolic syndrome (AD, IR).

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The subjects [n = 177 (72 M, 105 F), aged 29.7 +/- 8.4 (SD) years], underwent physical evaluation, BP measurement and anthropometry [height (m), weight (kg), waist (WC) and hip circumference (HC, cm)]. The cut-off points for normal/high scores on the indices were: (1) BMI: 30 kg/m(2) (M and F); (2) WHR: 0.80 F, 0.95 M, and (3) WC: 90 cm F, 100 cm M). The biochemical indices measured on fasting serum were: (1) AD: total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), HDL, LDL, apo B, HDL/TC ratio, and (2) IR: insulin, urate, insulin/glucose ratio (IGR).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: In the whole group of subjects, and in women separately considered, those with high indices (BMI, WHR, WC) had significantly increased levels of glucose, LDL, apo B, urate, mean BP, TG, insulin and IGR and lower values for HDL/TC ratio (all p < 0.05). In men, only urate, insulin and IGR levels were increased (p < 0.01) in the high-score groups. None of the indices showed any special superiority in describing the risk of AD or IR.

CONCLUSION: In women, BMI, WHR and WC appeared equally good in identifying individuals at high risk of AD and IR while in men, these indices satisfactorily described the risk of IR but not of AD. It is important to re-emphasise the need to indicate gender distinctions in using anthropometry for CHD risk assessment.

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