A systematic review of original articles published between 1993 and 2007 and indexed in SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) was carried out to identify the anthropometric indicators used to assess abdominal obesity in different target subgroups, and to provide an overview of available evidence regarding the relationship between these anthropometric indicators and obesity-associated comorbidities. The articles were analyzed and the following data were collected:year of publication, sample size and age, anthropometric measure used to detect abdominal obesity, and main results of the study. The review comprised 47 articles which met all inclusion criteria, most of them published over the last 5 years. Waist-hip ratio and waist circumference were used as indicators of abdominal obesity in 34 and 11 of the articles reviewed, respectively. With respect to age range, the samples were heterogeneous in most of the studies (n=27) and ten included adolescents. Four studies were conducted on elderly subjects and three included children, but none exclusively involved adolescents as the target population. The sample size was larger than 500 in 26 studies. Despite disagreement in terms of the degree of correlation, the studies generally showed that the anthropometric indicators of abdominal obesity were correlated with hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemias, and coronary heart risk. The results of this review suggest that abdominal obesity is associated with metabolic diseases. However, there is a lack of studies involving the adolescent population, suggesting the need for further research in this area.