Our knowledge of the association between abdominal obesity (AO) and the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF) after adjusting for body mass index (BMI) is limited. We included 11,617 Black and White participants (mean age 63.0 ± 8.4 years) from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) national cohort study who were free of AF at baseline. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) of incident AF associated with AO. We also evaluated the association between waist circumference (WC) and incident AF. Over a median follow-up of 9.4 years, 999 participants developed AF. AO was associated with an increased risk of AF in a multivariable model adjusted for sociodemographic, lifestyle, and cardiovascular risk factors (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.24 to 1.65, p <0.001). The association was attenuated after adjusting for BMI (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.35, p = 0.16). There was no evidence of interaction between AO and incident AF by age category (age >65 vs age ≤65), gender, race, obesity, or BMI category. Conversely, a 10cm increase in WC was associated with a higher incidence of AF after controlling for BMI (OR 1.18 95% CI 1.09 to 1.29, p <0.001), in both nonobese (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.28, p = 0.02) and obese (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.42, p <0.001) people. In conclusion, there was an association between AO and incident AF, but the association was weakened after adjusting for BMI. There was a significant association between WC and incident AF, after taking other AF risk factors and BMI into account. WC is a potentially modifiable risk factor for AF, and further research is warranted to explore the effect of decreasing WC on the population AF burden.