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Monday 24th June 2019

Type 2 diabetes risk predicted by waist size

6th June 2012

A research team has indicated that waist circumference can be used to predict risk of type 2 diabetes independently of body mass index.

The work was led by the MRC Epidemiology Unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, as part of an international collaboration.

The findings, published in PLoS Medicine, found that the association was particularly strong in women.

The researchers reanalysed data from the InterAct case-control study, which followed 340,234 people of European descent for a mean of 11.7 years.

This gave a total of 3.99 million person-years’ follow up during which 12,403 incident cases of type 2 diabetes were confirmed.

Waist circumference and BMI were each independently associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes during follow up.

The team concluded that waist circumference was independently and strongly associated with T2D and should be more widely measured.

In their findings they stated: “If targeted measurement is necessary for reasons of resource scarcity, measuring [waist circumference] in overweight individuals may be an effective strategy since it identifies a high-risk subgroup of individuals who could benefit from individualised preventive action.”

People with grade 2 obesity (BMI ≥35kg/m2) who also had a large waist (>102cm for men, 88cm for women) had a considerably higher risk of developing diabetes compared with low-normal weight people (BMI 18.5-22.4) with a smaller waist (<94cm for men, 80cm for women) – the hazard ratio was 22.0 for men and 31.8 for women.

The authors say measuring waist circumference in overweight people would be an effective strategy in diabetes prevention.


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