AimsConflicting evidence exists regarding whether obesity is independently associated with coronary artery calcium (CAC), a measure of coronary atherosclerosis. We examined an independent association of obesity with prevalent CAC among samples of multi-ethnic groups whose background populations have varying levels of obesity and coronary heart disease (CHD).Methods and resultsWe analysed a population-based sample of 1212 men, aged 40-49 years free of clinical cardiovascular disease recruited in 2002-06; 310 Japanese in Japan (JJ), 294 Koreans in South Korea (KN), 300 Japanese Americans (JA), and 308 Whites in the USA (UW). We defined prevalent CAC as an Agatston score of ≥10. Prevalent CAC was calculated by tertile of the body mass index (BMI) in each ethnic group and was plotted against the corresponding median of tertile BMI. Additionally, logistic regression was conducted to examine whether an association of the BMI was independent of conventional risk factors. The median BMI and crude prevalence of CAC for JJ, KN, JA, and UW were 23.4, 24.4, 27.4, and 27.1 (kg/m2); 12, 11, 32, and 26 (%), respectively. Despite the absolute difference in levels of BMI and CAC across groups, higher BMI was generally associated with higher prevalent CAC in each group. After adjusting for age, smoking, alcohol, hypertension, lipids, and diabetes mellitus, the BMI was positively and independently associated with prevalent CAC in JJ, KN, UW, but not in JA.ConclusionIn this multi-ethnic study, obesity was independently associated with subclinical stage of coronary atherosclerosis among men aged 40-49 years regardless of the BMI level.
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