Ethnic differences in indices of body mass and body fat distribution in Israel

H. Kertzman, G. Livshits, M. S. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Ethnic differences in cardiovascular disease have been demonstrated in the Jewish population in Israel. Different measures of body fat have been shown to be directly and indirectly associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It is not known to what extent lifestyle and genetic factors contribute to the distribution of body fat. The aim of this study was to examine ethnic differences in the distribution of body fat among Israelis. Between 1985 and 1989, a sample of 2154 males and 1395 females employed in Israeli industry were screened for selected risk factors for cardiovascular disease, in the framework of the Israel CORDIS study. Anthropometric measurements included height, weight, three circumferences (waist, hip, chest) and two skinfolds (subscapular and triceps skinfolds). In univariate analysis of six anthropometric variables, highly significant differences (P < 0.001) between ethnic groups were found in both sexes. The subjects of European origin had the highest amount of fat in the upper part of the body (WHR) for both sexes. After adjustment for factors such as cigarette smoking, education and sporting activity, the discrimination between ethnic groups remained statistically significant (P < 0.001) for all anthropometric indices except the triceps skinfold. Body mass index was not the best discriminating variable. Chest-to-waist ratio was the most powerful discriminator in males, but the subscapular-to-triceps ratio was the most powerful in females. These findings suggest that differences in body fat distribution are derived from both genetic and lifestyle factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-77
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Body fat distribution
  • Epidemiology
  • Ethnicity
  • Genetic factors
  • Obesity


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