Research Article: Associations between body fat variability and later onset of cardiovascular disease risk factors

Date Published: April 3, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Yuki Saito, Osamu Takahashi, Hiroko Arioka, Daiki Kobayashi, David Meyre.


There is current debate regarding whether body weight variability is associated with cardiovascular events. Recently, high body fat percentage (BF%) has been shown to be a cardiovascular risk factor. We therefore hypothesized that BF% variability would present a stronger cardiovascular risk than body weight variability.

A single-center retrospective cohort study of medical check-up examinees aged 20 years or older at baseline (2005) was performed. Examinees were followed in 2007, 2009, and 2013–2014. BF% variability in 2005, 2007 and 2009 was calculated as the root-mean square error (RMSE) using a simple linear regression model. Multiple logistic regression models estimated the association between BF%-RMSE and new diagnoses of cardiovascular risk factors occurring between the 2009 and 2013–2014 visits.

In total, 11,281 participants (mean age: 51.3 years old, 48.8% were male) were included in this study. The average BF%-RMSE of our subjects was 0.63, and the average BMI-RMSE was 0.24. The high BF%-RMSE group (76-100th percentile) had a higher incidence of hypertension and a lower incidence of diabetes mellitus than the low BF%-RMSE group (1-25th percentile). This tendency was particularly evident in male participants. BMI-RMSE was not associated with any cardiovascular risks in our study.

This study indicates that body fat variability has contrasting effects on cardiovascular risk factors, while body weight variability has no significant effects.

Partial Text

Homeostasis dysregulation is a risk factor for several diseases and for cardiovascular events in particular. For example, blood pressure variability is an independent cardiovascular risk factor regardless of average blood pressure [1–2]. Similarly, variability in fasting glucose and in cholesterol are associated with future cardiovascular events [3–5].

In this study, we analyzed the association between BF% variability and cardiovascular risk factors. Surprisingly, a high BF% variability was associated with conflicting outcomes: a high incidence of hypertension and a low incidence of diabetes mellitus. These associations were clear in the male population, but not in women, after stratifying by gender. An association between BMI-RMSE and cardiovascular risk factors was not observed in our study, which is consistent with previous retrospective cohort studies [13].




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