In a prospective study of risk factors for ischemic heart disease, 792 54-yr-old men selected by year of birth (1913) and residence in Göteborg, Sweden, agreed to attend for questioning and a number of anthropometric and other measurements in 1967. Thirteen and one-half years later, these baseline findings were reviewed in relation to the number of men who had subsequently developed diabetes mellitus.
This analysis focused on the importance of abdominal adipose tissue distribution, measured as the waistto- hip circumference ratio, as a predictor for development of diabetes. Even when the confounding effect of body mass index, as a measure of the total body fat mass, was accounted for, the waist-to-hip ratio was positively and significantly associated with the risk for diabetes.
These results from a prospective study strongly support previous cross-sectional findings indicating that not only the degree of obesity but also the localization of fat is a risk factor for diabetes.