Anthropometric predictors of coronary heart disease and total mortality: Findings from the US railroad study

Chong Hua Yao, Martha L. Slattery, David R. Jacobs, Aaron R. Folsom, Eileen T. Nelson

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40 Scopus citations


Prospective data from the US Railroad Study were used to investigate the relations of several anthropometnc variables to coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality in males initially free of cardiovascular disease. Middle-aged men were examined in 1957-1960 and followed until 1977 or death. Anthropometric indicators of total body fat (body mass index and the sum of the subscapular and triceps skinfolds) and central body fat(the ratios chest circumference/biacromial (shoulder) diameter, and chest circumference/standing height) were significantly and directly associated with age-adjusted coronary heart disease mortality. When systolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol, cigarette smoking, and vital capacity were also taken into account, the ratio chest circumference/biacromial diameter remained significantly associated with coronary heart disease mortality. Total, central, and peripheral body fat had a "U"-shaped relation with all-cause mortality. Measures of the ratio of central to peripheral body fat were inconsistently related to mortality. These results indicate that certain anthropometric measurements, especially those that may indicate central adiposity, are positively related to the development of fatal coronary heart disease and quadratically related to all-causes death rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1278-1289
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received for publication April 15, 1991, and in final form May 28, 1991. Abbreviation: Q, confidence interval. 1From the Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. 2 Current address Beipng Heart, Lung, and Blood Vessel Medical Center, (An Ding Men Wei), Beijing, People's Republic of China. 3 Current Address: Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah Medical School, Salt Lake City, UT. Reprint requests to Dr. David R. Jacobs, Division of Epidemiology, School of Pubfic Health, 1300 S. 2nd Street, Suite 300, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55454. This research was supported by grant 5R01-HL-23727 from the National Institutes of Health. The authors thank those responsible for collecting the US Railroad Study data-Dr. Ancel Keys (Director of the Seven Countries Study), Dr. Henry L Taylor, deceased (Director of the US Rairoad Study), and Dr. Henry Black-bum. The authors also thank Jon Roesler and Wffiam Car) who assisted with programming.


  • Body weight
  • Coronary disease
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity


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