Abdominal obesity is associated with an increased risk of hypertension independent of body mass index (BMI), according to researchers.

In a study of 11,145 adult participants in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2010), researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that individuals with abdominal obesity—defined as a waist circumference of 102 cm or greater for men and 88 cm or greater for women—had a 51% increased odds of being hypertensive, after controlling for BMI.

In addition, compared with subjects who had no abdominal obesity and a normal BMI, individuals with abdominal obesity and normal BMI had an 81% increased odds of being hypertensive, investigators reported online ahead of print in the American Journal of Hypertension. Subjects who were abdominally obese and overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2) had an 87% increased odds and those who were abdominally obese and obese (BMI 30 or greater) had a 3.2 times increased odds.

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