Adiposity, obesity, and arterial aging: longitudinal study of aortic stiffness in the Whitehall II cohort

Eric J. Brunner*, Martin J. Shipley, Sara Ahmadi-Abhari, Adam G. Tabak, Carmel M. Mceniery, Ian B. Wilkinson, Michael G. Marmot, Archana Singh-Manoux, Mika Kivimaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


We sought to determine whether adiposity in later midlife is an independent predictor of accelerated stiffening of the aorta. Whitehall II study participants (3789 men; 1383 women) underwent carotid-femoral applanation tonometry at the mean age of 66 and again 4 years later. General adiposity by body mass index, central adiposity by waist circumference and waist:hip ratio, and fat mass percent by body impedance were assessed 5 years before and at baseline. In linear mixed models adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, and mean arterial pressure, all adiposity measures were associated with aortic stiffening measured as increase in pulse wave velocity (PWV) between baseline and follow-up. The associations were similar in the metabolically healthy and unhealthy, according to Adult Treatment Panel-III criteria excluding waist circumference. C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 levels accounted for part of the longitudinal association between adiposity and PWV change. Adjusting for chronic disease, antihypertensive medication and risk factors, standardized effects of general and central adiposity and fat mass percent on PWV increase (m/s) were similar (0.14, 95 confidence interval: 0.05-0.24, P=0.003; 0.17, 0.08-0.27, P<0.001; 0.14, 0.05-0.22, P=0.002, respectively). Previous adiposity was associated with aortic stiffening independent of change in adiposity, glycaemia, and lipid levels across PWV assessments. We estimated that the body mass index-linked PWV increase will account for 12 of the projected increase in cardiovascular risk because of high body mass index. General and central adiposity in later midlife were strong independent predictors of aortic stiffening. Our findings suggest that adiposity is an important and potentially modifiable determinant of arterial aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-300
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2015. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Correction can be found in Hypertension volume 66(2) article e10,


  • aging
  • arterial stiffness
  • epidemiology
  • longitudinal studies
  • obesity


Dive into the research topics of 'Adiposity, obesity, and arterial aging: longitudinal study of aortic stiffness in the Whitehall II cohort'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this