BMI is dead; long live waist-circumference indices: But which index should we choose to predict cardio-metabolic risk?

Alan M. Nevill, Michael J. Duncan, Tony Myers

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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There is growing evidence that Body Mass Index (BMI) is unfit for purpose. Waist circumference (WC) indices appear to be the preferred alternative, although it is not clear which WC index is optimal at predicting cardio-metabolic risk (CMR) and associated health outcomes. We obtained a stratified random probability sample of 53,390 participants from the Health Survey for England (HSE), 2008-2018. The four available CMR factors were; high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Strength of association between the four cardio-metabolic risk factors and competing anthropometric indicators of weight status [BMI, Waist-to-height ratio (WHTR), unadjusted WC, and a new WC index independent of height, WHT·5R = WC/height ] was assessed separately, using simple correlations and ANCOVAs, and together (combined) using MANCOVA, controlling for age, sex and ethnicity. Centile curves for the new index WHT·5R = WC/height were also provided. Waist-circumference indices were superior to BMI when explaining/predicting our CMR factors, before and after controlling for age, sex and ethnicity. No single WC index was consistently superior. Results suggest that WHTR is the strongest predictor of HbA1c, confirming that shorter individuals are at great risk of diabetes. The most appropriate WC index associated with blood pressure was WHT·5R for DBP, or unadjusted WC for SBP. Given HDL cholesterol is independent of height, the best predictor of HDL was WHT.5R. Clearly, "no one size fits all!". MANCOVA identified WHT·5R to be the best single WC index associated with a composite of all four CMR factors. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1642-1650
Number of pages9
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number7
Early online date10 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


  • Obesity
  • Anthropometry
  • Metabolic Health
  • Diabetes
  • Disease Risk


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