Qiqi You, Qingqing Jiang, Dandan Li, Tiantian Wang, Shiqi Wang, Shiyi Cao

January 2022, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 123 - 135 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06994-y

First Online: 24 September 2021

Waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, body fat rate, total body fat mass and risk of low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis


To identify the associations between waist circumference (WC), waist-hip ratio (WHR), body fat rate (BFR), total body fat mass (BFM), and the risk of low back pain (LBP).


We have searched PubMed through October 2020 for observational studies investigating the associations between WC, WHR, BFR, or total BFM and the risk of LBP. Random-effect models were used to calculate the summary risk estimates and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).


A total of fifteen studies with 92,936 participants were included, of which ten were related to WC, five were related to WHR, four were related to BFR, and four were related to total BFM. Pooled results indicated that high WC (odds ratio (OR) = 1.30, 95% CI 1.10–1.54) and WHR (OR = 1.33, 95% CI 1.00–1.76) were associated with an increased risk of chronic low back pain (c-LBP). High WC (OR = 1.18, 95% CI 1.03–1.34) was also associated with an increased risk of non-c-LBP. The risk of non-c-LBP increased by 23% (OR = 1.23, 95% CI 1.01–1.50) for every 10% increase in BFR, and for every 10 kg increase in total BFM, the risk of non-c-LBP increased by 24% (OR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.10–1.39).


Observational epidemiological evidence suggested that individuals with increased WC, WHR, BFR, or total BFM tended to have an increased risk of LBP, regardless of whether their body mass indexes were normal. Excessive fat mass was the essence of the process.

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