COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Value of body fat mass vs anthropometric obesity indices in the assessment of metabolic risk factors

A Bosy-Westphal, C Geisler, S Onur, O Korth, O Selberg, J Schrezenmeir, M J Müller
International Journal of Obesity 2006, 30 (3): 475-83
16261188

OBJECTIVE: To compare the value of body fat mass (%FM) to indirect measures of general (body mass index (BMI)) and central adiposity (waist circumference (WC); waist-to-height ratio (WC/ht)) for the prediction of overweight- and obesity-related metabolic risk in a study population with a high prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MSX).

METHODS: BMI, WC, WC/ht, body composition (by air-displacement plethysmography) and metabolic risk factors: triglycerides, cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), uric acid, systolic blood pressure (BPsys), insulin resistance by homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured in 335 adults (191 women, 144 men; mean age 53 +/-13.9 years, prevalence of MSX 30%).

RESULTS: When compared with BMI and WC, %FM showed weaker associations with metabolic risk factors, except for CRP and BPsys in men. In women, HDL-C and HOMA-IR showed the closest correlations with BMI. For all other risk factors, WC or WC/ht were the best predictors in both sexes. Differences in the strength of correlations between an obesity index and different risk factors exceeded the differences observed between all obesity indices within one risk factor. In stepwise multiple regression analyses, WC/ht was the main predictor of metabolic risk in both sexes combined. However, analysis of the area under receiver operating characteristic curves for prediction of the prevalence of >or=2 component traits of the MSX revealed a similar accuracy of all obesity indices.

CONCLUSIONS: At the population level, measurement of body FM has no advantage over BMI and WC in the prediction of obesity-related metabolic risk. Although measures of central adiposity (WC, WC/ht) tended to show closer associations with risk factors than measures of general adiposity, the differences were small and depended on the type of risk factor and sex, suggesting an equivalent value of methods.

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