Greater central adiposity resulting from increased market integration is associated with elevated C-reactive protein levels in older women from the Republic of Vanuatu
Objective: We characterized the relationship between circulating C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and nine anthropometric measures of body fat to identify the best anthropometric predictors of CRP in Ni-Vanuatu women.
Sample and Methods: Anthropometric data and blood spot samples were collected from sixty-four Ni-Vanuatu female participants (age 35-78 years) on five islands with varying degrees of market integration, cultural change, and obesity. CRP concentration was determined with a high-sensitivity ELISA (hsCRP) assay and then compared to nine different anthropometric measurements.
Results: BMI was significantly correlated with CRP (p=0.047). Among the eight additional anthropometrics, the suprailiac skinfold (p=0.003) and waist-circumference (p=0.009) were better predictors of CRP than BMI. Moreover, our stepwise selection model indicated that the suprailiac skinfold explained ~14% of CRP level variance.
Conclusions: The BMI-CRP correlation coefficient for Ni-Vanuatu women falls within the range of previously reported values for East Asian populations with whom they share genetic ancestry. However, the best anthropometric predictors of CRP levels were waist circumference and suprailiac skinfold thickness. These measures capture central adiposity and are more closely associated with elevated CRP level and cardiovascular disease risk than fat distributed elsewhere on the body. Ni-Vanuatu in urban settings with high market integration are at greater risk for obesity, which is associated with elevated CRP levels. However, because nearly all Ni-Vanuatu still retain horticultural knowledge and land ownership, consumption of processed, imported foods is largely determined by degree of market integration and personal choice. Therefore, health interventions focusing on sustainable traditional food practices are feasible.
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