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Waist Circumference and Sagittal Diameter Reflect Total Body Fat Better Than Visceral Fat in Older Men and Women: The Health, Aging and Body Composition Study

Authors


Address for correspondence: Tamara B. Harris, M.D., M.S., Chief, Geriatric Epidemiology Office, Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry Program, National Institute on aging, Gateway Building, Room 3C-309, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20892–9205. Voice: 301–496–1178; fax: 301–496–4006. Tamara_Harris@nih.gov

Abstract

Abstract: The validity of waist circumference and sagittal diameter as surrogate measures of visceral fat were assessed using preliminary cross-sectional data from the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study, a cohort of 3,075 men and women aged 70–79. Weight, body mass index, waist circumference, waist/thigh ratio, and sagittal diameter were compared by correlation, graphical analysis, and regression to total body fat as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (Hologic 4500A), and to visceral fat area as measured by computerized tomography. We included 2,830 persons, 1,439 women and 1,391 men with complete data on all measurements. For both men and women, all measurements were strongly correlated with both total body fat and visceral fat except the waist/thigh ratio. However, waist circumference, sagittal diameter, weight, and body mass index were more closely related to total body fat than to visceral fat area (R2 for the linear regression of waist circumference on total body fat was 0.69 in women and men; R2 for linear regression of waist circumference on visceral fat area was 0.40 in women, and 0.49 in men). These data suggest that the contribution of visceral fat to health risks will be better assessed by directly measuring this fat depot.

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