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Waist size linked to type 2 diabetes, irrespective of BMI

Waist size is strongly linked to the risk of type 2 diabetes, even after accounting for BMI, and should be measured and used for risk estimation, suggest researchers.

Research reported in PLoS Medicine found that overweight people with a high waist circumference (>102 cm for men and >88 cm for women), have approximately the same or higher risk of eventually developing type 2 diabetes (T2D) as obese individuals.

The study examined data from the InterAct Study, consisting of 12 403 individuals from a total cohort of 340 234 participants who had developed T2D during a 15-year follow up.

Obese men (BMI >35 kg/m2) with a high waist circumference (>102 cm) were 22 times more likely to develop T2D than men with a low normal weight (BMI 18.5–22.4 kg/m2) and a low waist circumference (<94 cm); obese women with a waist circumference of >88 cm were 31.8 times more likely to develop T2D than women with a low normal weight and waist circumference (<80 cm). Importantly, among overweight people, waist circumference measurements identified a subgroup of overweight people (those with a high waist circumference) whose 10-year cumulative incidence of T2D was similar to that of obese people.

The authors concluded that waist circumference is independently and strongly associated with T2D, particularly in women, and should be more widely measured for risk stratification.

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