Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome



Korean J Obes 2006; 15(1): 1-9

Published online January 1, 2006

Copyright © Korean Society for the Study of Obesity.

Cut-off Points of Waist Circumference for Defining Abdominal Obesity in the Korean Population

Sangyeoup Lee1, Hye Soon Park2, Sun Mee Kim3, Hyuk Sang Kwon4, Dae Young Kim5, Dae Joong Kim6, Guem Joo Cho7, Jee Hye Han8, Sung Rae Kim4, Cheol Young Park9, Seoung Joon Oh10, Chang Beom Lee11, Kyung Soo Kim12, Sang Woo Oh13, Yong Sung Kim14, Woong Hwan Choi11, Hyung Joon Yoo9

Center for Obesity, Nutrition and Metabolism, Pusan National University Hospital1;
Department of Family Medicine, Ulsan Uninversity College of Medicine2;
Department of Family Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine3;
Department of Internal Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine4;
Department of Family Medicine, Seoul Municipal Dong-Bu Hospital5;
Department of Internal Medicine, Ajou University, College of Medicine6, Health Center, Guro-gu, Seoul7;
Department of Family Medicine, Eulji University College of Medicine8;
Department of Internal Medicine, Hallym University, College of Medicine9;
Department of Internal Medicine, Kyung Hee University, College of Medicine10;
Department of Internal Medicine, Hanyang University, College of Medicine11;
Department of Family Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, College of Medicine12;
Department of Family Medicine, Ilsan Paik Hospital, Inje University13;
Department of Internal Medicine, Inha University, College of Medicine14


Background: Recently, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) consensus proposed a new definition for diagnosing metabolic syndrome. Ethnic-specific waist circumference (WC) cut-off points have been incorporated into the definition. Therefore, the study of the WC cut-off points for defining abdominal obesity in Koreans was performed by the Korean Society of the Study of Obesity.
Methods: The data used for analysis was from the Korean National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (KNHANES) performed in 1998 (involved 6562 participants), which is representative of nutritional health research in Korea. The 2005 International Diabetes Federation definition of the metabolic syndrome was applied. The reasonable cut-off points of WC for abdominal obesity in Koreans were set based on Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curve, odds ratio and prevalence of abdominal obesity in the study population.
Results: Using ROC analysis, the optimal WC to predict the risk factors of metabolic syndrome, such as high triglyceride levels, low levels of HDL-cholesterol, hypertension, and high glucose levels in Koreans, was 82~84 cm for men, and 79~82 cm for women. The odds ratio of having more than 2 metabolic abnormalities was about 5 in men with WC > 90 cm and in women with WC > 80 cm. WC in the 80th percentile in the Korean population is 90 cm and 86.5 cm for men and women, respectively.
Conclusions: The cut-off points of WC for abdominal obesity in Koreans are 90 cm for men and 85 cm for women, respectively. The cut-off points of waist circumference for defining abdominal obesity should be followed up by future additional studies and updated when new data becomes available.

Keywords: Metabolic syndrome, Obesity, Prevalence, Waist circumference