Author(s): Wang JJ, Taylor B, Wong TY, Chua B, Rochtchina E, Klein R, Mitchell P. Retinal vessel diameters and obesity: a population-based study in older persons. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Feb;14(2):206-14. PMID 16571845
OBJECTIVE Obesity is linked with large vessel atherosclerosis and diabetes. Its association with microvascular changes is less clear. We investigated the associations among retinal vessel diameters, vessel wall signs, and BMI in an older population.
RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES Retinal photographs were taken on 3654 persons aged 49+ years at baseline of the Blue Mountains Eye Study in Australia. Arteriolar and venular diameters were measured from digitized retinal photographs of the right eyes. BMI was calculated as weight (kilograms)/height (meters2). Incident obesity was defined in persons with BMI 30 after 5 years. A significant weight gain was defined as an increase in BMI of 2+ SDs (4 or more units) over the 5-year period.
RESULTS At baseline, mean BMI was 26.1 (+/-4.6) in this population. At 5-year examinations, 177 (10.0% of 1773 at risk) developed incident obesity, and 136 (6.4% of 2143 at risk) had significant weight gain. After adjusting for age, sex, smoking, triglyceride levels, and mean arterial blood pressure, persons with wider retinal venular diameters had a higher risk of incident obesity (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.0 to 3.1, comparing the highest with lowest venular diameter quintiles) and significant weight gain (odds ratio, 1.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.9 to 3.2). These associations were attenuated with further adjustment for baseline BMI. Arteriolar diameter was unrelated with baseline or change in BMI.
DISCUSSION Wider retinal venular diameter is associated with risk of obesity, independent of hypertension, diabetes, lipids, and cigarette smoking. These data may support a role for impaired microvascular function in the course of weight gain.