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Abstract

Hip circumference has been shown to be inversely associated with mortality. Muscle atrophy in the gluteofemoral region may be a possible explanation and thus physical activity is likely to play an important role.

Objective:

To estimate the combined effects of hip circumference and physical activity on mortality.

Design and Methods:

From the Copenhagen City Heart Study, 3,358 men and 4,350 women aged 21 to 93 years without pre-existing diagnosis of diabetes, stroke, ischemic heart disease, or cancer in 1991-1994 and with complete information on the variables of interest were included in the analyses. The participants were followed to 2009 in the Danish Civil Registration System, with 1.3% loss to follow-up and 2,513 deaths. Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated for combinations of physical activity and hip circumference.

Results:

Hip circumference was inversely associated with mortality irrespective of being physically active or not. However, being physically active seemed to counterbalance some of the adverse health effects of a small hip circumference; when comparing inactive to active, the excess mortality at the 25th percentile of hip circumference is 40% in men (HR = 1.40, 95% CI: 1.14-1.72) and 33% in women (HR = 1.33, CI: 1.10-1.62). These associations were observed after adjustment for waist circumference and weight change in the 6 months before the examination.

Conclusion:

Less effects of physical activity were found in individuals with greater hip circumferences. A small hip circumference appears hazardous to survival. However, being physically active may counterbalance some of the hazardous effects of a small hip circumference.