Indicators of fat distribution, serum lipids, and blood pressure in European women born in 1948--the European Fat Distribution Study

J C Seidell, M Cigolini, J Charzewska, B M Ellsinger, G Di Biase, P Björntorp, J.G.A.J. Hautvast, F Contaldo, V Szostak, L A Scuro

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the spring of 1986, the authors studied the relation between body mass index and anthropometric indicators of fat distribution to cardiovascular risk factors (serum lipids and blood pressure) in approximately 450 women aged 38 years randomly selected from population registers in five European centers. Waist circumference was, in univariate analysis, more strongly related to triglycerides (positive association) and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (negative association) than to body mass index or any other anthropometric measurement. Among the centers, we observed considerable variation in the strength of the associations between anthropometric measurements and risk factors. After adjustment for body mass index, most associations between skinfolds and circumferences and risk factors were reduced to statistically nonsignificant levels, but in some centers there were independent contributions of circumferences or circumference ratios to serum lipids, but not to blood pressures. Adjustment for differences in body mass index and fat distribution between the centers did not reduce the differences in cardiovascular risk factors between the different centers but instead revealed that serum cholesterol levels were lowest in the centers of southern Europe (Italy) and that HDL cholesterol levels were higher. Blood pressure was highest in the Swedish women. We conclude that in some female populations, but not in others, indicators of fat distribution are related to serum lipids but not to blood pressure, independent of body mass index.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-65
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1989


  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cohort Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Obesity
  • Risk Factors
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Triglycerides
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article


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