Waist-to-height ratio is an accurate and easier index for evaluating obesity in children and adolescents

Yan Weili, Bingxian He, Hua Yao, Jianghong Dai, Jun Cui, Dongliang Ge, Yujian Zheng, Ling Li, Yanying Guo, Kaiti Xiao, Xiaohai Fu, Da Ma
Obesity 2007, 15 (3): 748-52

OBJECTIVES: The present study aims to evaluate the accuracy of the index of waist-to-height ratio (WHTR), and proposed the optimal thresholds of WHTR in the definition of childhood overweight and obesity in a bi-ethnic Chinese school-aged population.

RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Overweight and obese were identified by BMI for age and gender in a random sample including 2055 Han and 2132 Uygur ethnic school-aged children (8 to 18 years old). WHTR was calculated by waist circumference divided by height on the basis of standard anthropometric measurements. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses were performed to assess the accuracy of WHTR as a diagnostic test for childhood overweight and obesity, compared with waist circumference. The optimal thresholds of WHTR for defining overweight and obesity were recommended respectively by gender. The correlation between WHTR and age was analyzed and compared with BMI.

RESULTS: A-values (area under curve) of WHTR for diagnosing overweight and obesity were both over 0.90 in both genders and better than those of waist circumference. A threshold of 0.445 was identified for overweight in both genders, with the sensitivity and specificity >0.80. The thresholds for defining obesity was 0.485 in boys and 0.475 in girls, both having the sensitivity and specificity >0.90. WHTR showed less association with age than BMI.

CONCLUSIONS: WHTR is a simple, easy, accurate, and non-age-dependent index with high applicability to screening overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. The use of WHTR in the general childhood population has been justified by this study.


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