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      Waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio of Hong Kong Chinese children

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          Central body fat is a better predictor than overall body fat for cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in both adults and children. Waist circumference (WC) has been used as a proxy measure of central body fat. Children at high CV risk may be identified by WC measurements. Waist-to-height ratio (WHTR) has been proposed as an alternative, conveniently age-independent measure of CV risk although WHTR percentiles have not been reported. We aim to provide age- and sex-specific reference values for WC and WHTR in Hong Kong Chinese children.


          Cross sectional study in a large representative sample of 14,842 children aged 6 to 18 years in 2005/6. Sex-specific descriptive statistics for whole-year age groups and smoothed percentile curves of WC and WHTR were derived and presented.


          WC increased with age, although less after age 14 years in girls. WHTR decreased with age (particularly up to age 14). WHTR correlated less closely than WC with BMI (r = 0.65, 0.59 cf. 0.93, 0.91, for boys and girls respectively).


          Reference values and percentile curves for WC and WHRT of Chinese children and adolescents are provided. Both WC and WHTR are age dependent. Since the use of WHRT does not obviate the need for age-related reference standards, simple WC measurement is a more convenient method for central fat estimation than WHRT.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Obesity and the risk of myocardial infarction in 27,000 participants from 52 countries: a case-control study.

          Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but the most predictive measure for different ethnic populations is not clear. We aimed to assess whether markers of obesity, especially waist-to-hip ratio, would be stronger indicators of myocardial infarction than body-mass index (BMI), the conventional measure. We did a standardised case-control study of acute myocardial infarction with 27 098 participants in 52 countries (12,461 cases and 14,637 controls) representing several major ethnic groups. We assessed the relation between BMI, waist and hip circumferences, and waist-to-hip ratio to myocardial infarction overall and for each group. BMI showed a modest and graded association with myocardial infarction (OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.32-1.57 top quintile vs bottom quintile before adjustment), which was substantially reduced after adjustment for waist-to-hip ratio (1.12, 1.03-1.22), and non-significant after adjustment for other risk factors (0.98, 0.88-1.09). For waist-to-hip ratio, the odds ratios for every successive quintile were significantly greater than that of the previous one (2nd quintile: 1.15, 1.05-1.26; 3rd quintile: 1.39; 1.28-1.52; 4th quintile: 1.90, 1.74-2.07; and 5th quintiles: 2.52, 2.31-2.74 [adjusted for age, sex, region, and smoking]). Waist (adjusted OR 1.77; 1.59-1.97) and hip (0.73; 0.66-0.80) circumferences were both highly significant after adjustment for BMI (p<0.0001 top vs bottom quintiles). Waist-to-hip ratio and waist and hip circumferences were closely (p<0.0001) associated with risk of myocardial infarction even after adjustment for other risk factors (ORs for top quintile vs lowest quintiles were 1.75, 1.33, and 0.76, respectively). The population-attributable risks of myocardial infarction for increased waist-to-hip ratio in the top two quintiles was 24.3% (95% CI 22.5-26.2) compared with only 7.7% (6.0-10.0) for the top two quintiles of BMI. Waist-to-hip ratio shows a graded and highly significant association with myocardial infarction risk worldwide. Redefinition of obesity based on waist-to-hip ratio instead of BMI increases the estimate of myocardial infarction attributable to obesity in most ethnic groups.
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            Waist circumference and not body mass index explains obesity-related health risk.

            The addition of waist circumference (WC) to body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)) predicts a greater variance in health risk than does BMI alone; however, whether the reverse is true is not known. We evaluated whether BMI adds to the predictive power of WC in assessing obesity-related comorbidity. Subjects were 14 924 adult participants in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, grouped into categories of BMI and WC in accordance with the National Institutes of Health cutoffs. Odds ratios for hypertension, dyslipidemia, and the metabolic syndrome were compared for overweight and class I obese BMI categories and the normal-weight category before and after adjustment for WC. BMI and WC were also included in the same regression model as continuous variables for prediction of the metabolic disorders. With few exceptions, overweight and obese subjects were more likely to have hypertension, dyslipidemia, and the metabolic syndrome than were normal-weight subjects. After adjustment for WC category (normal or high), the odds of comorbidity, although attenuated, remained higher in overweight and obese subjects than in normal-weight subjects. However, after adjustment for WC as a continuous variable, the likelihood of hypertension, dyslipidemia, and the metabolic syndrome was similar in all groups. When WC and BMI were used as continuous variables in the same regression model, WC alone was a significant predictor of comorbidity. WC, and not BMI, explains obesity-related health risk. Thus, for a given WC value, overweight and obese persons and normal-weight persons have comparable health risks. However, when WC is dichotomized as normal or high, BMI remains a significant predictor of health risk.
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              Smoothing reference centile curves: the LMS method and penalized likelihood.

              Refence centile curves show the distribution of a measurement as it changes according to some covariate, often age. The LMS method summarizes the changing distribution by three curves representing the median, coefficient of variation and skewness, the latter expressed as a Box-Cox power. Using penalized likelihood the three curves can be fitted as cubic splines by non-linear regression, and the extent of smoothing required can be expressed in terms of smoothing parameters or equivalent degrees of freedom. The method is illustrated with data on triceps skinfold in Gambian girls and women, and body weight in U.S.A. girls.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Department of Paediatrics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the People's Republic of China
                [2 ]Centre for Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the People's Republic of China
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                22 September 2008
                : 8
                : 324
                Copyright © 2008 Sung et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Public health


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