Comparison of relationships between four common anthropometric measures and incident diabetes


      • WC and WHtR were more strongly associated with incident diabetes risk than BMI.
      • No overall difference between the measures in the predictive accuracy of diabetes.
      • No overall advantage in using one measure over another.
      • Health practitioners should continue to be encouraged to perform body measurements.



      First, to conduct a detailed exploration of the prospective relations between four commonly used anthropometric measures with incident diabetes and to examine their consistency across different population subgroups. Second, to compare the ability of each of the measures to predict five-year risk of diabetes.


      We conducted a meta-analysis of individual participant data on body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-hip and waist-height ratio (WHtR) from the Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Collaboration. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate the association between a one standard deviation increment in each anthropometric measure and incident diabetes. Harrell’s concordance statistic was used to test the predictive accuracy of each measure for diabetes risk at five years.


      Twenty-one studies with 154,998 participants and 9342 cases of incident diabetes were available. Each of the measures had a positive association with incident diabetes. A one standard deviation increment in each of the measures was associated with 64–80% higher diabetes risk. WC and WHtR more strongly associated with risk than BMI (ratio of hazard ratios: 0.95 [0.92,0.99] – 0.97 [0.95,0.98]) but there was no appreciable difference between the four measures in the predictive accuracy for diabetes at five years.


      Despite suggestions that abdominal measures of obesity have stronger associations with incident diabetes and better predictive accuracy than BMI, we found no overall advantage in any one measure at discriminating the risk of developing diabetes. Any of these measures would suffice to assist in primary diabetes prevention efforts.


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