Body fat distribution and male/female differences in lipids and lipoproteins.
The role of body fat distribution, as assessed by the ratio of waist-to-hip circumferences (WHR), in statistically explaining differences in levels of lipoproteins between men and women was studied using data collected in 1985-1986 from employed adults (mean age, 40 years). As compared with the 415 women, the 709 men had higher mean levels of triglycerides (+38 mg/dl) and apolipoprotein B (+11 mg/dl) as well as lower mean levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (-15 mg/dl) and apolipoprotein A-I (-19 mg/dl). Additionally, men were more overweight, consumed more alcohol, and exercised more frequently than women but were less likely to smoke cigarettes. Controlling for these characteristics, however, did not alter the differences in lipoprotein levels between men and women. In contrast, adjustment for WHR (which was greater among men) reduced the sex differences in levels of apolipoprotein B (by 98%), triglycerides (by 94%), HDL cholesterol (by 33%), and apolipoprotein A-I (by 21%). Similar results were obtained using analysis of covariance, stratification, or matching; at comparable levels of WHR, differences in lipid and lipoprotein levels between men and women were greatly reduced. Although these results are based on cross-sectional analyses of employed adults and need to be replicated in other populations, the findings emphasize the relative importance of body fat distribution. Whereas generalized obesity and body fat distribution are associated with lipid levels, fat distribution (or a characteristic influencing fat patterning) can be an important determinant of sex differences in levels of triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and apolipoproteins B and A-I.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association