Research Article

Obesity: new insight into the anthropometric classification of fat distribution shown by computed tomography.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 08 June 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:1692
  1. M Ashwell,
  2. T J Cole,
  3. A K Dixon


    Twenty eight women presenting for routine computed tomography had their waist, hip, and thigh circumferences measured. The ratio of the area of intra-abdominal fat to the area of subcutaneous fat shown in the computed tomogram taken at the umbilical level was calculated and found to correlate highly significantly with the ratio of waist to hip circumference. The correlation between these two ratios remained significant after allowing for the degree of obesity (weight (kg)/height (m)2) and age. In contrast, there was no significant correlation between the ratio of intra-abdominal to subcutaneous fat and degree of obesity. A high ratio of waist to hip circumference has been shown to be associated with a high proportion of intra-abdominal fat. Thus women with a centralised distribution of fat (high waist to hip ratio: "apples") tend to have a greater proportion of their fat in the intra-abdominal depot than do women with a peripheral fat distribution (low waist to hip ratio: "pears"). The metabolic complications of obesity, which are associated with a high ratio of waist to hip circumference, may therefore relate specifically to the amount of intra-abdominal fat.