The use of sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD) has been proposed for screening cardio-metabolic risk factors; however, its accuracy can be influenced by the choice of thresholds values. To determine the SAD threshold values for cardio-metabolic risk factors in Mexican adults; to assess whether parallel and serial SAD testing can improve waist circumference (WC) sensitivity and specificity; and to analyze the effect of considering SAD along with WC and body mass index (BMI) in detecting cardio-metabolic risk. This cross-sectional study was conducted during 2012-2014 in Northeast Mexico (n = 269). Data on anthropometric, clinical, and biochemical measurements were collected. Sex-adjusted receiver-operating characteristic curves (ROC) were obtained using hypertension, dysglycemia, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance as individual outcomes and metabolic syndrome as a composite outcome. Age-adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using logistic regression. The threshold value for SAD with acceptable combination of sensitivity and specificity was 24.6 cm in men and 22.5 cm in women. Parallel SAD testing improved WC sensitivity and serial testing improved WC specificity. The co-occurrence of high WC/high SAD increased the risk for insulin resistance by 2.4-fold (95% CI: 1.1-5.3), high BMI/high SAD by 4.3-fold (95% CI: 1.7-11.9) and SAD alone by 2.2-fold (95% CI: 1.2.-4.2). The use of SAD together with traditional obesity indices such as WC and BMI has advantages over using either of these indices alone. SAD may be a powerful screening tool for interventions for high-risk individuals.