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Central obesity is a leading health concern with a great burden carried by ethnic minority populations, and especially Hispanics/Latinos. Genetic factors contribute to the obesity burden overall and to inter-population differences. We aim to: 1) identify novel loci associated with central adiposity measured as waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), waist circumference (WC), and hip circumference (HIP), all adjusted for body mass index (adjBMI), using the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL); 2) determine if differences in genetic associations differ by background group within HCHS/SOL; 3) determine whether previously reported association regions generalize to HCHS/SOL. Our analyses included 7,472 women and 5,200 men of mainland (Mexican, Central and South American) and Caribbean (Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican) background residing in the US, with genome-wide array data imputed to the 1000 genomes Phase I multiethnic reference panel. We analyzed associations stratified by sex in addition to sexes combined using linear mixed-model regression. We identified 16 variants for WHRadjBMI, 22 for WCadjBMI, and 28 for HIPadjBMI that reached suggestive significance (P<1x10-6). Many of the loci exhibited differences in strength of associations by ethnic background and sex. We brought a total of 66 variants forward for validation in nine cohort studies (N=34,161) with participants of Hispanic/Latino, African and European descent. We confirmed four novel loci (ancestry-specific P<0.05 in replication, consistent direction of effect with HCHS/SOL, and P<5x10-8 after meta-analysis with HCHS/SOL), including rs13301996 in the sexes-combined analysis, and rs79478137 for women-only for WHRadjBMI; rs28692724 in women-only for HIPadjBMI; and rs3168072 in the sexes combined analysis for WCadjBMI. Also, a total of eight previously reported WHRadjBMI association regions, 12 for HIPadjBMI, and 10 for WCadjBMI generalized to HCHS/SOL. Our study findings highlight the importance of large-scale genomic studies in ancestrally diverse Hispanic/Latino populations for identifying and characterizing central obesity-susceptibility that may be ancestry-specific.

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