High waist circumference strongly associated with type 2 diabetes

Waist circumference is independently and strongly associated with type 2 diabetes, especially in women, according to a study published in PloS Medicine.

The researchers found that body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference were each independently associated with type 2 diabetes. Waist circumference was a stronger risk factor in women than in men.

Women with a high waist circumference greater than 88 centimeters and grade 2 obesity of 35 or greater BMI were almost 32 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as normal weight people with a BMI of about 18 with a low waist circumference.

Obese men with a BMI of 35 or greater and a high waist circumference greater than 102 centimeters were 22 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than men with normal BMI and a low waist circumference of less than 94 centimeters.

Among overweight people, waist circumference measurements identified a subgroup of overweight people with a high waist circumference whose 10-year cumulative incidence of type 2 diabetes was similar to that of the obese group.

The study involved a total of more than 340,000 participants from eight European countries. More than 12,400 participants had type 2 diabetes.

According to the study, waist circumference is a simple and reliable measure of fat distribution. Previous studies have been too small to reliably quantify the risk of future diabetes by waist circumference at different levels of BMI.

A high BMI is a strong predictor of type 2 diabetes, according to the study. While obese people with BMI of greater than 30 have the highest risk of developing diabetes, many of of the people who develop diabetes are overweight with a BMI of 25 to 30.

The researchers recommend that clinicians measure waist circumference to identify people at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

They also suggest that measuring waist circumference may be an effective strategy in settings where resources are scarce, since it identifies a high-risk subgroup of patients who could benefit from preventative treatment.

Additional studies are needed to confirm this association in other ethnic groups.

Source: PLoS Medicine

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