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Associations of body mass and fat indexes with cardiometabolic traits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3142-3154
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number24
Early online date10 Dec 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 17 Sep 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2018
DatePublished (current) - 18 Dec 2018



Body mass index (BMI) is criticized for not distinguishing fat from lean mass and ignoring fat distribution, leaving its ability to detect health effects unclear.


The aim of this study was to compare BMI with total and regional fat indexes from dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry in their associations with cardiometabolic traits. Duration of exposure to and change in each index across adolescence were examined in relation to detailed traits in young adulthood.


BMI was examined alongside total, trunk, arm, and leg fat indexes (each in kilograms per square meter) from dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry at ages 10 and 18 years in relation to 230 traits from targeted metabolomics at age 18 years in 2,840 offspring from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.


Higher total fat mass index and BMI at age 10 years were similarly associated with cardiometabolic traits at age 18 years, including higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure, higher very low-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and higher insulin and glycoprotein acetyls. Associations were stronger for both indexes measured at age 18 years and for gains in each index from age 10 to 18 years (e.g., 0.45 SDs [95% confidence interval: 0.38 to 0.53] in glycoprotein acetyls per SD unit gain in fat mass index vs. 0.38 SDs [95% confidence interval: 0.27 to 0.48] per SD unit gain in BMI). Associations resembled those for trunk fat index. Higher lean mass index was weakly associated with traits and was not protective against higher fat mass index.


The results of this study support abdominal fatness as a primary driver of cardiometabolic dysfunction and BMI as a useful tool for detecting its effects.

    Structured keywords

  • ICEP

    Research areas

  • ALSPAC, body mass index, cardiometabolic traits, DXA, epidemiology

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