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20-11-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

BMI, waist circumference cut-off points for South Asians ‘should be lowered’


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MedWire News: Substantially lower obesity cut-off points than currently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are needed to identify dysglycemia and dyslipidemia in South Asian individuals, researchers urge.

As the majority of South Asians have a body mass index (BMI) above the obesity cut-off point derived from the glycemia factor, South Asian ethnicity per se could be viewed as conferring a similar level of risk for developing Type 2 diabetes as obesity does in White European individuals, report Kamlesh Khunti (University of Leicester, UK) and team.

They screened 4688 White Europeans and 1333 South Asians aged between 40-75 years who lived in the UK for Type 2 diabetes, and used principal components analysis to derive a glycemia, lipid, and a blood pressure factor.

Each factor was then adjusted for age and stratified by gender to identify BMI and waist circumference (WC) cut-off points in South Asians that correspond to those defined for White Europeans.

The findings revealed that the derived BMI obesity cut-off points equivalent to 30.0 kg/m2 in White Europeans were, 22.6 kg/m2 for the glycemia factor, 26.0 kg/m2 for the lipid factor, and 28.4 kg/m2 for the blood pressure factor in South Asian men.

For WC, the derived cut-off points in South Asian men equivalent to 102 cm in White Europeans were 83.8 cm for the glycemia factor, 91.4 cm for the lipid factor, and 99.3 cm for the blood pressure factor.

Lower ethnicity cut-off points were seen in South Asian women for both BMI and WC, the researchers note.

"These results highlight the fact that South Asians face the double burden of dysglycemia and dyslipidemia at substantially lower levels of adiposity than White Europeans," they write.

In fact, they say, South Asian ethnicity per se denotes a similar risk as obesity does in White Europeans.

"In order to ensure equivalence in targeting at risk individuals, BMI and WC cut-off points need to be substantially lower in South Asian populations than those currently recommended by WHO."

They say that in order to reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes in this population, increased physical activity must be promoted.

"South Asians have an even greater need to maintain a healthy weight than the European Whites," they conclude.

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By Piriya Mahendra