Optimal cut-off levels to define obesity: body mass index and waist circumference, and their relationship to cardiovascular disease, dyslipidaemia, hypertension and diabetes in Malaysia

Zaki Morad Mohd Zaher, Robayaah Zambari, Chan Siew Pheng, Vadivale Muruga, Bernard Ng, Geeta Appannah, Lim Teck Onn
Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009, 18 (2): 209-16
Many studies in Asia have demonstrated that Asian populations may require lower cut-off levels for body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference to define obesity and abdominal obesity respectively, compared to western populations. Optimal cut-off levels for body mass index and waist circumference were determined to assess the relationship between the two anthropometric- and cardiovascular indices. Receiver operating characteristics analysis was used to determine the optimal cut-off levels. The study sample included 1833 subjects (mean age of 44+/-14 years) from 93 primary care clinics in Malaysia. Eight hundred and seventy two of the subjects were men and 960 were women. The optimal body mass index cut-off values predicting dyslipidaemia, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or at least one cardiovascular risk factor varied from 23.5 to 25.5 kg/m2 in men and 24.9 to 27.4 kg/m2 in women. As for waist circumference, the optimal cut-off values varied from 83 to 92 cm in men and from 83 to 88 cm in women. The optimal cut-off values from our study showed that body mass index of 23.5 kg/m2 in men and 24.9 kg/m2 in women and waist circumference of 83 cm in men and women may be more suitable for defining the criteria for overweight or obesity among adults in Malaysia. Waist circumference may be a better indicator for the prediction of obesity-related cardiovascular risk factors in men and women compared to BMI. Further investigation using a bigger sample size in Asia needs to be done to confirm our findings.

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