Quotient of Waist Circumference and Body Mass Index: A Valuable Indicator for the High-Risk Phenotype of Obesity

Xiao-cong Liu, Yu Huang, Ka Hei Kenneth Lo, Yu-qing Huang, Ji-Yan Chen, Ying-qing Feng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Measuring the body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference (WC) alone is insufficient for assessing possible health risks due to obesity. This study aimed to investigate whether the quotient of WC and BMI can be used as a proxy of the high-risk phenotype of obesity. Methods: Data for analysis were derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1999-2014). The Waist-BMI Ratio was defined as WC divided by BMI. The associations between Waist-BMI Ratio and mortality were estimated using Cox regression models. Restricted cubic spline and two-piecewise linear regression models were used to identify non-linear relationships. The discriminative abilities of different anthropometric measures were compared using receiver operating characteristic curves (ROC). Results: This study is based on data from 35557 adults (51.1% female, mean age 44.9 years). During an average follow-up of 101.8 months, 3680 participants died, including 807 of cardiovascular causes. In fully adjusted models, Waist-BMI Ratio was independently associated with overall (hazard ratio [HR], 1.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.48-2.13) and cardiovascular (HR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.25-2.52) mortality. Spline analyses revealed that dose-response relationships existed between Waist-BMI Ratio and death. The mortality risk rises dramatically above the cut-off point of the Waist-BMI Ratio (HR, 3.22; 95% CI, 2.43-4.26 for overall mortality and HR, 3.07; 95% CI, 1.71-5.52 for cardiovascular mortality). ROC curve analysis suggested that Waist-BMI Ratio was a better discriminator of mortality (AUC 0.637 for overall and 0.639 for cardiovascular mortality) than BMI, WC, and waist-to-height ratio (Delong’s test all P <0.001). Conclusions: Waist-BMI Ratio was independently associated with overall and cardiovascular mortality in a J-shaped pattern, offering an immense potential risk marker for obesity in the clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number697437
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • body mass index
  • mortality
  • obesity
  • waist circumference
  • waist-BMI ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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