British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Obesity indices in relation to cardiovascular disease risk factors among young adult female students

Paul Farajiana1, Efthimia Rentia1 and Yannis Maniosa1 c1

a1 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, 70 El. Venizelou Avenue, 176 71 Kallithea, Athens, Greece


The objective of the present study was to compare the percentage of body fat (%BF), BMI, and central fat distribution anthropometric measures as indices of obesity and to assess the respective associations with cardiovascular risk factors in young female students. Subjects were 220 healthy Greek female students. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to estimate %BF, anthropometric measurements were obtained and blood samples were analysed for CVD risk factors. Results showed that 48·6 % of students had increased adiposity, while a considerable proportion was characterised by central fat distribution irrespective of the anthropometric index used. The proportion of subjects with at least one metabolic risk factor present was 60·4 %. Although %BF was not associated with any of the CVD risk factors, waist circumference, waist:hip ratio and waist:height ratio were all associated with CVD risk factors. Higher levels of these anthropometric variables demonstrated higher prevalence of CVD risk factors. The lack of association between %BF and CVD risk factors could be attributed to the fact that females with undesirable adiposity had a tendency for the gynaecoid type of obesity. In contrast, the present results suggest that central body fat distribution in young women may reflect increased risk due to high visceral and particularly intra-abdominal fat levels. Recent epidemiological data from Greece show a high prevalence of overweight and obesity in young adults. Therefore, assessing the risk for the presence of CVD risk factors is of particular importance. Central obesity anthropometric indices seem to be valuable screening tools for young women.

(Received February 18 2007)

(Revised June 21 2007)

(Accepted August 13 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Yannis Manios, fax +30 210 9514759, email


Abbreviations: DXA, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; FMI, fat mass index; HDL-C, HDL-cholesterol; LDL-C, LDL-cholesterol; ROC, receiver operating characteristic; TC, total cholesterol; WC, waist circumference; WHpR, waist:hip ratio; WHtR, waist:height ratio