Adiposity Phenotypes and Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Adults from Sub-Saharan Africa: An H3Africa AWI-Gen Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Obesity and adipose tissue distribution contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by promoting atherosclerosis. This association has been poorly studied in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) despite the rising prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Objectives: We determined the association between various adiposity phenotypes and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), a proxy of subclinical atherosclerosis, in a large SSA population. Methods: A population-based cross-sectional study was performed from 2013-2016 in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Body mass index (BMI), waist (WC), hip circumferences (HC), visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SCAT) using B-mode ultrasound were measured. Ultrasonography of left and right far wall CIMT of the common carotid artery was used as an indicator of subclinical atherosclerosis. Individual participant data meta-analyses were used to determine the associations between adiposity phenotypes and CIMT in the pooled sample while adjusted multivariable linear regression analyses were used for site specific analyses. Results: Data were obtained from 9, 010 adults (50.3% women and a mean age of 50± 6years). Men had higher levels of visceral fat than women while women had higher BMI, waist and hip circumference and subcutaneous fat than men at all sites except Burkina Faso. In the pooled analyses, BMI (β-value [95% CIs]: 19.5 [16.8, 22.3] μm) showed the strongest relationship with CIMT followed by VAT (5.86 [4.65, 7.07] μm), SCAT (5.00 [2.85, 7.15] μm), WC (1.27 [1.09, 1.44] μm) and HC (1.23 [1.04, 1.42] μm). Stronger associations were observed in men than in women. Conclusion: Obesity within SSA will likely result in higher levels of atherosclerosis and promote the occurrence of cardio- and cerebrovascular events, especially in males, unless addressed through primary prevention of obesity in both rural and urban communities across Africa. The inverse association of VAT with CIMT in Burkina Faso and Ghana requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalGlobal Heart
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021


  • Adiposity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Carotid intima-media thickness
  • Obesity
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Subclinical atherosclerosis


Dive into the research topics of 'Adiposity Phenotypes and Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Adults from Sub-Saharan Africa: An H3Africa AWI-Gen Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this