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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Waist circumference cut-off values for the prediction of cardiovascular risk factors clustering in Chinese school-aged children: a cross-sectional study

Ailing Liu12, Andrew P Hills2, Xiaoqi Hu1, Yanping Li1, Lin Du3, Ying Xu4, Nuala M Byrne2 and Guansheng Ma1*

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China

2 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia

3 Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Guangzhou, China

4 Liaoyang Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Liaoyang, China

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:82  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-82

Published: 19 February 2010



Waist circumference has been identified as a valuable predictor of cardiovascular risk in children. The development of waist circumference percentiles and cut-offs for various ethnic groups are necessary because of differences in body composition. The purpose of this study was to develop waist circumference percentiles for Chinese children and to explore optimal waist circumference cut-off values for predicting cardiovascular risk factors clustering in this population.


Height, weight, and waist circumference were measured in 5529 children (2830 boys and 2699 girls) aged 6-12 years randomly selected from southern and northern China. Blood pressure, fasting triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and glucose were obtained in a subsample (n = 1845). Smoothed percentile curves were produced using the LMS method. Receiver-operating characteristic analysis was used to derive the optimal age- and gender-specific waist circumference thresholds for predicting the clustering of cardiovascular risk factors.


Gender-specific waist circumference percentiles were constructed. The waist circumference thresholds were at the 90th and 84th percentiles for Chinese boys and girls respectively, with sensitivity and specificity ranging from 67% to 83%. The odds ratio of a clustering of cardiovascular risk factors among boys and girls with a higher value than cut-off points was 10.349 (95% confidence interval 4.466 to 23.979) and 8.084 (95% confidence interval 3.147 to 20.767) compared with their counterparts.


Percentile curves for waist circumference of Chinese children are provided. The cut-off point for waist circumference to predict cardiovascular risk factors clustering is at the 90th and 84th percentiles for Chinese boys and girls, respectively.