It is known that higher BMI is linked to higher risk of cardiovascular illnesses.
But in a recent study, researchers from University College London find that waist-to-hip ratio may be a better index of cardiovascular illnesses like stroke than BMI.
The finding is published in Circulation.
It shows that waist-to-hip ratio may be a stronger predictor of coronary heart disease and stroke.
The researchers examined multiple genetic variants linked to BMI and waist-to-hip ratio adjusted for BMI, as a measure of obesity and central body fat.
The health data were from 229,000 people, including 66,842 people for coronary heart disease, 12,389 people for stroke, and 34,840 people for type 2 diabetes.
The team found a clear causal relation between higher BMI and central body fat with higher risks of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
In addition, they found that central body fat may have a stronger effect on stroke risk than BMI.
The large-scale genetic study is the most comprehensive causal assessment of the relationship between obesity and cardio metabolic diseases to date.
Their previous findings have shown associations between obesity and the risk of developing coronary heart diseases, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
And now they find waist-to-hip ratio, an index for central body fat, is very important health index, too.
They said that while BMI is a successful indicator of risk for some diseases, waist-to-hip ratio may be a better indicator than BMI for risk for other diseases, especially stroke.
Because it is difficult to separate the two measures, waist-to-hip ratio should be considered as another valuable marker of stroke risk.
The researcher warn that association does not equal causation, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and weight loss – which can also result from chronic health conditions – may not have been considered.
But the study still confirms that obesity indices, both BMI and waist-to-hip ratio – for both chronic heart disease and ischemic stroke.
Moreover, the distribution of body fat could play a very important role in chronic diseases that is different from general obesity.
This means doctors should pay attention to measures of obesity beyond BMI, as extra measurements may offer more information to help identify risk of cardiovascular diseases.
It may also help scientists to develop new methods to tackling disease prevention targeting waist-to-hip ratio.
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