Obesity is one of the most significant risk factors for hypertension. However, there is controversy regarding which measure is the best predictor of hypertension risk. We compared body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) in subjects as predictive indicators for development of hypertension.
The data were obtained from the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study (KoGES), a large population-based prospective cohort study. A total of 4,454 subjects (2,128 men and 2,326 women) aged 40–69 years who did not have hypertension at baseline were included in this study. Incident hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥140 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure ≥90 mmHg, or anti-hypertensive medication use during the 4-year follow up. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to compare discrimination abilities for anthropometric indices for hypertension. Hazard ratios were calculated by Cox proportional hazard model with adjustment for age, smoking status, alcohol consumption, diabetes and family history of hypertension by sexes.
In men, the area under the ROC curve (AROC) was 0.62 for WC, WHR, and WHtR and 0.58 for BMI. In women, the AROCs for BMI, WC, WHR, and WHtR were 0.57, 0.66, 0.68, and 0.68, respectively. After adjustment for risk factors, a 1 standard deviation increase in BMI, WC, WHR, WHtR were significantly related to incident hypertension, respectively (hazard ratio: 1.39, 1.50, 1.40 and 1.49 in men, 1.31, 1.44, 1.35 and 1.48 in women).
The central obesity indices WC, WHR, and WHtR were better than BMI for the prediction of hypertension in middle-aged Korean people. WHtR facilitates prediction of incident hypertension because of the single standard regardless of sex, ethnicity, and age group. Therefore, WHtR is recommended as a screening tool for the prediction of hypertension.