Optimal waist circumference threshold for diagnosing metabolic syndrome in African people living with HIV infection Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • BACKGROUND: The applicability of the internationally advocated cut-off points of waist circumference (WC) derived from Caucasians to diagnose metabolic syndrome (MS) in HIV-infected Africans is unknown. This study aimed to determine the optimal WC cutoffs for MS diagnosis in HIV-infected people receiving care at public healthcare facilities in the Western Cape Province in South Africa. METHODS: Data from 748 randomly selected participants (591 women), with a median age of 38 years, were analysed. The Youden's index and the top-left-point approaches were used to determine the optimal cutoffs of WC for predicting ≥2 non-adipose MS components. RESULTS: The two approaches generated the same WC cut-off point in women, 92 cm (sensitivity 64%, specificity 64%) but different cut-off points in men: 87 cm (sensitivity 48%, specificity 85%) based on the Younden's index and 83 cm (sensitivity 59%, specificity 74%) by the top-left-point method. The advocated thresholds of 94 cm in men had low sensitivity (30%) but high specificity (92%) whereas 80 cm in women showed low specificity (32%) but high sensitivity (85%) for diagnosing MS in this sample. Most African-specific cut-off points performed well, with 90 cm providing acceptable performance in both men (sensitivity 43%, specificity 88%) and women (sensitivity 66%, specificity 59%). CONCLUSIONS: This study underlines the sub-optimal performance of internationally recommended WC thresholds for MS diagnosis in HIV-infected Africans, and supports the need to revisit the guidelines on WC criterion in African population across the board. A single threshold of 90 cm for both genders would be a practical suggestion.


  • Nguyen, Kim A
  • Peer, Nasheeta
  • de Villiers, Anniza
  • Mukasa, Barbara
  • Matsha, Tandi E
  • Mills, Edward Joseph
  • Kengne, Andre P

publication date

  • 2017