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Background
Keywords
Findings
Authors

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Background

This article describes measures of abdominal obesity—waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist-to-height ratio—within body mass index (BMI) categories, using data from two population-based health surveys.  Among normal-weight men, the percentages at increased/high health risk based on these three measures were not statistically different in 2007-2009 than in 1981.  By contrast, among normal-weight women, increases were observed in the percentage at increased/high health risk based on each of the three measures.  The percentage of overweight men at increased/high risk based on waist circumference rose from 49% in 1981 to 62% in 2007-2009, and among overweight women, the percentage at increased/high risk rose for each of the three measures (64% to 93% for waist circumference, 22% to 51% for waist-to-hip ratio, and 68% to 87% for waist-to-height ratio).  Although substantial percentages of men and women in obese class I were at increased/high health risk based on abdominal obesity measures in 1981, by 2007-2009, almost everyone in this BMI category was at increased/high risk.   

Keywords

Body composition, central obesity, waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio, waist-to-hip ratio

Findings

Body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight in relation to height, is the most widely used indicator of obesity. A BMI-based system has long been employed to classify adults in categories based on health risk. [Full Text]

Authors

Margot Shields (1-613-951-4177, margot.shields@statcan.gc.ca) is with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6.  Mark S. Tremblay is with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario. Sarah Connor Gorber is with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Ian Janssen is with Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.