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Keywords:

  • Cardiovascular risk;
  • China;
  • diabetes;
  • obesity

Summary

The aim of this work was to study the relationship between excess body weight and the risks of hypertension and diabetes in the population of northeastern China. Subsections of a cross-sectional survey in Da Qing City were used to assess the relationship of excess weight to risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). A 6-year prospective study also assessed the probability of developing Type 2 diabetes. A total of 2856 adults (25–70 years of age) were assessed cross-sectionally and 629 non-diabetic subjects of similar age were followed-up for 6 years. Blood pressure, plasma fasting glucose, triglycerides, high-density lipoporotein (HDL) cholesterol and fibrinogen levels were measured as well as weight, height and waist and hip circumferences. About 45% of adults had a body mass index (BMI) of ≥25.0. Risk factors increased with increasing BMI from a baseline value of 21.0: at a BMI of 23.0–24.9, the risk of hypertension and hypertriglyceridaemia doubled; the risk increased threefold at a BMI of 25.0–26.9. The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes increased progressively in women within the normal BMI range and in men from a BMI of 25.0. Type 2 diabetes was four times as common if the BMI was >27.0. Increasing waist measurements predicted 10-fold increases in hypertension and a three-to-five times increased risk of diabetes. Suitable waist cut-off points were 85 cm for men and 80 cm for women, with statistical analysis showing waist as the more dominant predictor of risk than age, waist-to-hip ratios or BMIs. Hence, small increases in BMI, and particularly in waist circumference, predict a substantial increase in the risk of diabetes and risk for CHD, especially hypertension, in Chinese adults.