Waist circumference cut points of >102 cm in men and >97 cm in women are indicative of elevated cardiovascular risk in Hispanic/Latino adults living in the United States, according to the results of a study published in Diabetes Care.

Population- and ethnicity-specific abdominal obesity cut points are necessary due to fluctuations in the overall population. The appropriate abdominal obesity cut points for identification of metabolic syndrome among Hispanic/Latino adults residing in the US have not yet been determined.

To establish an optimal definition for abdominal obesity in Hispanic/Latino adults and determine how this definition correlates with the presence of metabolic syndrome diagnosed by the current Joint Interim Statement (JIS) from 2009, data from 16,289 individuals (59.9% women) aged 18 to 74 years who self-identified as Hispanic/Latino were analyzed. The sample included individuals of Central American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and South American ethnicity.

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The mean waist circumference was 98.2 cm for men and 96.6 cm for women. The presence of coronary heart disease (CHD) was used as an indicator of cardiovascular disease risk; overall, the percentage of individuals with prevalent CHD was 6.8% for men and 5.4% for women.

The waist circumference value that provided the optimal balance of sensitivity and specificity in association with prevalent CHD was 97 cm for women (65.4% sensitivity; 51.3% specificity) and 102 cm for men (50.6% sensitivity; 64.0% specificity). The optimal cut point for men was within current recommendations in the JIS for non-Hispanic white males, whereas the optimal cut point for women was well above the current JIS recommendation for non-Hispanic white women. Using the current JIS recommendation of 88 cm for women, the sensitivity was 87.7% with only a 24.2% specificity, resulting in a 5.2% greater prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the study population compared with a cut point of 97 cm.

These findings indicated that the JIS criteria for abdominal obesity overestimate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in Hispanic/Latina women living in the US by approximately 5%. Future research is warranted to validate these findings.


Chirinos DA, Llabre MM, Goldberg R, et al. Defining abdominal obesity as a risk factor for coronary heart disease in the US: results from the Hispanic community health study/study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) [published online June 19, 2020]. Diabetes Care. doi:10.2337/dc19-1855