Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Waist-hip Ratio Better Than BMI For Gauging Obesity In Elderly, Study Finds

Date:
September 2, 2009
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
Body mass index readings may not be the best gauge of obesity in older adults, according to new research from endocrinologists and geriatricians. Instead, they say, the ratio of waist size to hip size may be a better indicator when it comes to those over 70. Obesity is often associated with premature mortality because it leads to an increased risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and other major health problems.

New research shows that the ratio of waist size to hip size may be a better indicator when it comes to those over 70.
Credit: iStockphoto/Marc Dietrich

Body mass index (BMI) readings may not be the best gauge of obesity in older adults, according to new research from UCLA endocrinologists and geriatricians. Instead, they say, the ratio of waist size to hip size may be a better indicator when it comes to those over 70.

In a new study published online in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Epidemiology, researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found that the waist-to-hip circumference ratio was a better yardstick for assessing obesity in high-functioning adults between the ages of 70 and 80, presumably because the physical changes that are part of the aging process alter the body proportions on which BMI is based.

"Basically, it isn't BMI that matters in older adults — it's waist size," said Dr. Preethi Srikanthan, UCLA assistant professor of endocrinology and the study's lead investigator. "Other studies have suggested that both waist size and BMI matter in young and middle-aged adults and that BMI may not be useful in older adults; this is one of the first studies to show that relative waist size does matter in older adults, even if BMI does not matter."

Using data from the MacArthur Successful Aging Study — a longitudinal study of high-functioning men and women between the ages of 70 and 79 — researchers examined all-cause mortality risk over 12 years by BMI, waist circumference and waist-hip ratio. They adjusted for gender, race, baseline age and smoking status. The average age of participants was 74.

Obesity is often associated with premature mortality because it leads to an increased risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and other major health problems, the study authors say.

The researchers found no association between all-cause mortality and BMI or waist circumference; the link was only with waist-hip ratio. In women, each 0.1 increase in the waist-hip ratio was associated with a 28 percent relative increase in mortality rate (the number of deaths per 100 older adults per year) in the group sampled. Thus, if the waist-hip ratio rose from 0.8 to 0.9 or from 0.9 to 1.0, it would mean a 28 percent relative increase in the death rate. Put another way, if hip size is 40 inches, an increase in waist size from 32 to 36 inches signaled a 28 percent relative death-rate increase.

The relationship was not graded in men. Instead there was a threshold effect: The rate of dying was 75 percent higher in men with a waist-hip ratio greater than 1.0 — that is, men whose waists were larger than their hips — relative to those with a ratio of 1.0 or lower. There was no such relationship with either waist size or BMI.

The study may have some limitations, the authors noted. For instance, participants' BMI may be underestimated because height and weight were self-reported and older adults tend to report those numbers from their younger, peak years. Also, waist-hip ratios, waist circumference and BMI numbers were based on single measurements, limiting the researchers' ability to gauge how changing body size in old age can affect mortality risk.

Teresa Seeman and Arun S. Karlamangla, both also of UCLA, were co-authors on the study.

The National Institute on Aging funded this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "Waist-hip Ratio Better Than BMI For Gauging Obesity In Elderly, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090901150951.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2009, September 2). Waist-hip Ratio Better Than BMI For Gauging Obesity In Elderly, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090901150951.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "Waist-hip Ratio Better Than BMI For Gauging Obesity In Elderly, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090901150951.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins