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Keywords:

  • hip circumference;
  • waist circumference;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • diabetes;
  • mortality

Abstract

Objective: The waist circumference is widely viewed as a simple but effective measure for assessing obesity-related health risks, whereas measurement of the hip circumference is not currently prioritized. This study examines health risks associated specifically with hip circumference in a cohort of Swedish women, to determine whether information may be lost by excluding the hip circumference from health surveys.

Research Methods and Procedures: The subjects described in this report constitute a population-based sample of 38- to 60-year-old women who underwent anthropometric examinations in 1968. The 24-year incidence rates have been ascertained for myocardial infarction, combined cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. All-cause, cardiovascular, and myocardial infarction mortality also were evaluated.

Results: Hip circumference was a significant independent inverse risk estimator for all endpoints studied. Using Cox regression with adjustment for age, smoking, body mass index, and waist circumference, the remaining variability associated with larger hips was associated with significantly fewer adverse health outcomes. The hip circumference became statistically informative after body mass index adjustment. The strongest protective associations were observed for cardiovascular disease and diabetes endpoints, although significant trends were also seen for total mortality. Considering hip and waist simultaneously, the strength of the inverse association for large hips generally exceeded the positive association for waist.

Discussion: Recent interest in the waist circumference as an effective screening tool has taken the focus off of the hip circumference. The present results suggest that collection of hip measurements should not be discontinued in assessment of obesity-related risk status and health promotion.