Synergistic effects and sex differences in anthropometric measures of obesity and elevated high-sensitivity c-reactive protein levels

Fatima Nari, Bich Na Jang, Gyu Ri Kim, Eun Cheol Park, Sung In Jang

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It remains unclear which anthropometric measure best predicts elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels. This study investigated the association and synergistic interaction of two obesity indices with elevated hs-CRP levels in a national sample of Korean adults, stratified by sex. Methods: The present cross-sectional study used data from the 2015–2018 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 18,610 subjects aged ≥20 years after excluding those with missing variables. Multiple logistic regression analyses and chi-squared tests were performed to investigate the association between body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) with elevated hs-CRP levels. Interaction analysis was used to examine the synergistic effect between BMI and WC on the risk of having elevated hs-CRP levels. Results: Elevated hs-CRP levels exceeding 3 mg/L were present in 9.3% and 7.5% of men and women, respectively. The relationship between each obesity index and elevated hs-CRP levels was significant in women (high WC (odds ratio [OR] = 1.77, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.24–2.54), high BMI (OR = 2.08, 95% CI = 1.58–2.74)) but not in men (high WC (OR = 1.19, 95% CI = 0.86–1.64), high BMI (OR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.77–1.29)). Furthermore, combined measures of the two obesity indices and interaction analysis results revealed a synergistic association in men (OR = 1.57, 95% CI = 1.33–1.85; relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) = 0.39, 95% CI = −0.09–0.86), and women (OR = 3.70, 95% CI = 3.09–4.43; RERI = 0.85, 95% CI = −0.06–1.75). Conclusion: BMI and WC were significantly associated with a risk of elevated hs-CRP levels in women but not in men. Nevertheless, significant synergistic interactions were seen in combined measures of BMI and WC, regardless of sex. These findings emphasize the need to use both measures of adiposity concurrently in the assessment of obesity and when identifying cardiovascular risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8279
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was supported by a faculty research grant from Yonsei University College of Medicine (6-2018-0174 and 6-2017-0157).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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