Assessing the causal impact of adiposity variation on rates of hospital admission: Application of Mendelian randomization
Hazewinkel A-D., Dixon P., Richmond R., Wade K.
Background Body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip-ratio (WHR) are measures of adiposity, the former being a good marker for overall total body fat, the latter describing regional adiposity. Higher adiposity has been associated with the increased prevalence of many chronic diseases and a positive association between BMI and increased hospital admissions has previously been established. The aim of this study was to estimate the causal relationship between BMI, WHR and WHR adjusted for BMI (WHRadjBMI) and yearly hospital admission rates. Methods and Findings Mendelian randomization (MR) approaches were used to test the causal effect of BMI, WHR and WHRadjBMI on yearly hospital admission rates. Using data on 310,471 participants of White-British ancestry from the UK Biobank, we performed one-sample and two-sample MR analyses on the exposures individually and in a multivariable setting. MR analyses supported a causal role of adiposity on hospital admissions, with consistency across one- and two-sample MR methods. Primarily, one-sample MR analyses estimated fold-increases in yearly hospital admission rates of 1.13 (95% CI: 1.02, 1.27), 1.26 (95% CI: 1.00, 1.58) and 1.22 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.47) per SD for BMI, WHR and WHRadjBMI, respectively. A multivariable approach yielded estimates of 1.04 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.03) for BMI and 1.31 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.67) for WHR, while adjusting for WHR and BMI, respectively. Conclusions The results support a causal role of higher BMI and WHR in increasing the yearly hospital admission rate. The attenuation of the BMI effect, when adjusting for WHR in the multivariable MR analyses, suggested that an adverse fat distribution, rather than a higher BMI itself, may drive the relationship between adiposity and increased risk of hospital admission. Keywords: Body mass index (BMI), waist-hip-ratio (WHR), hospital admission, Mendelian randomization