Waist-to-height ratio is a better screening tool than waist circumference and BMI for adult cardiometabolic risk factors: systematic review and meta-analysis
Article first published online: 23 NOV 2011
© 2011 The Authors. obesity reviews © 2011 International Association for the Study of Obesity
Volume 13, Issue 3, pages 275–286, March 2012
How to Cite
Ashwell, M., Gunn, P. and Gibson, S. (2012), Waist-to-height ratio is a better screening tool than waist circumference and BMI for adult cardiometabolic risk factors: systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 13: 275–286. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00952.x
- Issue published online: 17 FEB 2012
- Article first published online: 23 NOV 2011
- Received 4 August 2011; revised 29 September 2011; accepted 17 October 2011
- Body mass index (BMI);
- receiver operating characteristics (ROC);
- waist circumference (WC);
- waist-to-height ratio (WHtR).
Our aim was to differentiate the screening potential of waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) and waist circumference (WC) for adult cardiometabolic risk in people of different nationalities and to compare both with body mass index (BMI). We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that used receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves for assessing the discriminatory power of anthropometric indices in distinguishing adults with hypertension, type-2 diabetes, dyslipidaemia, metabolic syndrome and general cardiovascular outcomes (CVD). Thirty one papers met the inclusion criteria. Using data on all outcomes, averaged within study group, WHtR had significantly greater discriminatory power compared with BMI. Compared with BMI, WC improved discrimination of adverse outcomes by 3% (P < 0.05) and WHtR improved discrimination by 4–5% over BMI (P < 0.01). Most importantly, statistical analysis of the within-study difference in AUC showed WHtR to be significantly better than WC for diabetes, hypertension, CVD and all outcomes (P < 0.005) in men and women.
For the first time, robust statistical evidence from studies involving more than 300 000 adults in several ethnic groups, shows the superiority of WHtR over WC and BMI for detecting cardiometabolic risk factors in both sexes. Waist-to-height ratio should therefore be considered as a screening tool.