Waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and waist-to-height ratio reference percentiles for abdominal obesity among Greek adolescents

Flora Bacopoulou, Vasiliki Efthymiou, Georgios Landis, Anastasios Rentoumis, George P Chrousos
BMC Pediatrics 2015 May 4, 15: 50

BACKGROUND: Indices predictive of adolescent central obesity include waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR). Such reference data are lacking for Greek adolescents. The aim of this study was to develop age- and gender-specific WC, WHR and WHtR smoothed reference percentiles for abdominal obesity among Greek adolescents aged 12-17 years, to investigate possible obesity cut-offs of WHR and WHtR and to compare WC percentiles to other adolescent populations.

METHODS: A representative sample of 1610 high school adolescents (42.2% boys, 57.8% girls; mean age ± sd 14.4 ± 1.72 years) participated in this cross-sectional study in Attica, Greece, in 2013. Weight, height, body mass index (BMI), WC, hip circumference (HC), WHR and WHtR were measured and percentiles were calculated using the LMS method. The relation between WHR, WHtR and general obesity, as defined by the International Obesity Task Force, was investigated with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. The discriminating power of WHR and WHtR was expressed as area under the curve (AUC). Greek adolescents' WC measurements at the 50th and 90th percentile were compared with their counterparts' smoothed percentiles from Norway, Turkey, Poland, South India, Germany and Kuwait.

RESULTS: Boys had significantly higher mean in all measures than girls, except for BMI where there was no statistical difference in terms of gender. BMI, WC and HC showed an increasing trend with age. WC leveled off in both genders at the age of 17 years. WHR and WHtR showed a continuous decrease with advancing age. WHtR was a better predictor for general obesity in both boys and girls (AUC 95% CI 0.945-0.992) than the WHR (AUC 95% CI 0.758-0.870); the WHtR cut-off of 0.5 had sensitivity 91% and specificity 95% for both genders and all age groups combined. International comparisons showed that Greek adolescents had relatively high levels of abdominal obesity in early-middle adolescence but this did not persist at the age of 17 years.

CONCLUSIONS: These reference percentile curves could be used provisionally for early detection of abdominal obesity in Greek adolescents aged 12-17 years; WHtR of 0.5 could also be used as a threshold for obesity in this age group.

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