Selection of body fat distribution indices in adults and associations with plasma lipid metabolism variables

Haleh Sangi-Haghpeykar, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Body fat distribution is a cardiovascular health risk factor in adults. Body fat distribution can be measured through various methods including anthropometry. It is not clear which anthropometric index is suitable for epidemiologic studies of fat distribution and cardiovascular disease. The purpose of the present study was to select a measure of body fat distribution from among a series of indices (those traditionally used in the literature and others constructed from the analysis) that is most highly correlated with lipid-related variables and is independent of overall fatness. Subjects were Mexican-American men and women (N = 1004) from a study of gallbladder disease in Starr County, Texas. Multivariate associations were sought between lipid profile measures (lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins) and two sets of anthropometric variables (4 circumferences and 6 skinfolds). This was done to assess the association between lipid-related measures and the two sets of anthropometric variables and guide the construction of indices. Two indices emerged from the analysis that seemed to be highly correlated with lipid profile measures independent of obesity. These indices are: 2*arm circumference-thigh skinfold in pre- and post-menopausal women and arm/thigh circumference ratio in men. Next, using the sum of all skinfolds to represent obesity and the selected body fat distribution indices, the following hypotheses were tested: (1) state of obesity and centrally/upper distributed body fat are equally predictive of lipids, lipoproteins and apolipoproteins, and (2) the correlation among the lipid-related measures is not altered by obesity and body fat distribution. With respect to the first hypothesis, the present study found that most lipids, lipoproteins and apolipoproteins were significantly associated with both overall fatness and anatomical location of body fat in both sex and menopausal groups. However, within men and post-menopausal women, certain lipid profile measures (triglyceride and HDLT among post-menopausal women and apos C-II, CIII, and E among men) had substantially higher correlation with body fat distribution as compared with overall fatness. With respect to the second hypothesis, both obesity and body fat distribution were found to alter the association among plasma lipid variables in men and women. There was a suggestion from the data that the pattern of correlations among men and post-menopausal women are more comparable. Among men correlations involving apo A-I, HDLT, and HDL$\sb2$ seemed greatly influenced by obesity, and A-II by fat distribution; among post-menopausal women correlations involving apos A-I and A-II were highly affected by the location of body fat. Thus, these data point out that not only can obesity and fat distribution affect levels of single measures, they also can markedly influence the pattern of relationship among measures. The fact that such changes are seen for both obesity and fat distribution is significant, since the indices employed were chosen because they were independent of one another.

Subject Area

Public health|Statistics

Recommended Citation

Sangi-Haghpeykar, Haleh, "Selection of body fat distribution indices in adults and associations with plasma lipid metabolism variables" (1992). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9401765.