It is generally accepted in the medical world that obesity, as measured by a person's body mass index, may be an important risk factor for overall mortality as well as coronary heart disease. But less clear is the relationship between obesity and stroke risk. According to a recent study in the US, researchers waist-to-hip ratio, independent of body mass index (BMI), may be a better predictor of stroke risk.
In a population-based, case-control study, researchers from Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York discovered that of 576 stroke victims, the mean waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) was greater than among the non-stroke control group of 1,142 people. However, the mean BMI was greater in the control group.
"What our data outcomes indicate is that the effect of WHR on stroke risk is independent of BMI, and may be even more relevant among those who are in the normal and overweight categories versus those who are obese," noted the study author Seung-Han Suk. A person with a BMI of 25 or less is considered to be of normal weight, with a BMI of 25 to 30 is regarded as overweight and with a BMI greater than 30 is considered obese.
"We strongly recommend that stroke prevention programmes incorporate education about the WHR factor, in addition to general weight management plans," concluded Suk.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.