Favourable association of leg fat with cardiovascular risk factors


H. Ito MD, PhD, Department of Medicine and Biosystemic Science, Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Maidashi 3-1-1, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.
(fax: +81 92 642 5247; e-mail: h_ito@intmed1.med.kyushu-u.ac.jp).


Objectives.  To assess the association of trunk and leg fat mass (FM) and leg lean tissue mass (LTM) with conventional cardiovascular risk factors.

Design. Cross-sectional study.

Setting and subjects.  We studied 1249 men and 3007 women (age 20–79 years) who attended a research institute for a health checkup between October 1995 and February 2004.

Main outcome measures.  Body mass index, waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and haemoglobin A1C were measured. Trunk FM, leg FM and leg LTM were obtained by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. We evaluated the associations between the indices for regional body composition and cardiovascular risk factors, which included hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, hypo-HDL cholesterolaemia, hypertriglyceridaemia, dyslipidaemia and diabetes mellitus.

Results.  Increase in WC and HC respectively showed increase and decrease in odds ratios of cardiovascular risk factors. Increase in trunk FM by 1 kg significantly increased the risk of the cardiovascular risk factors with the odds ratios ranging between 1.11 and 1.45. Increase in leg FM by 1 kg significantly decreased the risk with the odds ratios ranging between 0.52 and 0.90, except for the nonsignificant results for hypercholesterolaemia and hypo-HDL cholestero-laemia in men. Odds ratios of 1 kg increase in leg LTM were only significant for dyslipidaemia in men and hypercholesterolaemia in women (both 0.93).

Conclusions.  WC and HC showed opposite and independent associations with cardiovascular risk factors. The favourable association of HC was mainly attributable to that of leg FM.