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Does body fat percentage independently predict mortality and CVD?

We are encouraged to calculate BMI and many also calculate waist-to-hip ratio to help make an assessment of cardiovascular risk in people with diabetes. In this study, investigators found that both these assessments have good predictive value. However, going beyond these assessments to additionally perform a calculation of body fat percentage did not add to the predictive value.

by Colin Kenny, GP, Dromore

Calculating body fat percentage requires measurements with a tape measure to determine waist, hip and neck circumferences, which are then put into a calculation along with sex and weight. Investigators prospectively followed 15,062 individuals in the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer)-Norfolk study who had attended a health examination between 1997 and 2000. They were followed up for all-cause mortality and incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Once BMI and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) were taken into account, fat percentage did not add to the prediction of mortality or CVD in this cohort of middle-aged and older-aged adults. Higher BMI and WHR were themselves associated with an elevated risk of both outcomes, and it was concluded that WHR appeared to have the best predictive value among the three indices that were investigated.


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