Anthropometric predictors for the risk of chronic disease in non-diabetic, non-hypertensive young Mexican women

Lynnette M Neufeld, Jessica C Jones-Smith, Raquel GarcĂ­a, Lia C H Fernald
Public Health Nutrition 2008, 11 (2): 159-67

OBJECTIVES: To assess the ability of anthropometric measurements to identify young women at risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and heart disease in the future and to compare cut-off points for common anthropometric measures established with receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves with those reported in the literature.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SUBJECTS: Eight hundred and two young Mexican women living in semi-urban poverty. MEASUREMENTS/METHODS: The ability of anthropometric measures of fatness and fat distribution (body mass index (BMI), summed skinfold thickness (SST), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), conicity index (CI), abdominal volume index (AVI)) to predict risk of future disease (pre-diabetes: fasting blood glucose 100-126 mg dl-1; pre-hypertension: systolic blood pressure 120-139 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure 80-89 mmHg; hypertriglyceridaemia: triglycerides > or =150 mg dl-1; or a combination of risk factors) was assessed using ROC curve analysis.

RESULTS: Twenty-three of the 802 women who were interviewed had incomplete data and 50 (6.4%) were eliminated from the analysis due to hypertension and/or diabetes. Mean age of the remaining 729 women was 29.6 +/- 5.4 years and mean BMI was 27.7 +/- 4.5 kg m-2. There were no significant differences in the area under the ROC curve for BMI, WC, AVI or SST for any of the four outcomes. However, these indices performed significantly better than WHR and CI (P < 0.05). The BMI cut-off points that maximised sensitivity and specificity for the four outcomes were in the range of 27.7-28.4 kg m-2, and for WC were 89.3-91.2 cm. To detect 90% of the cases of any metabolic alteration, the necessary BMI cut-off was 26.1 kg m-2. Younger women (<25 years) were at greater risk than older women for a given BMI increment (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: We found that BMI and WC cut-off points commonly used for the identification of risk of existing disease were also appropriate in this population for the identification of risk in the future among women without diabetes or hypertension. The early identification of at-risk individuals, prior to the onset of disease, is fundamental particularly in the context of a country with scarce resources that is rapidly undergoing nutrition transition.

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