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03-11-2011 | Diabetes | Article

Combined BMI, waist-to-hip ratio best measure of postmenopausal diabetes risk


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MedWire News: The most useful adiposity measure for determining risk for diabetes among postmenopausal individuals is a combination of body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), researchers report.

Waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio are the best single measures of risk for diabetes because they are highly correlated with both overall adiposity and body fat distribution, they say.

However, these measures provide less information about risk than the combination of more specific measures of overall adiposity (BMI) and body fat distribution (WHR), they write in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Led by Arthur Hartz (University of Utah, USA), the investigators analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative, a prospective study of 141,652 postmenopausal women recruited from 40 clinical centers across the USA.

For each level of BMI, the risk for diabetes increased with either WHR or waist circumference. And for each given value of WHR or waist circumference, the risk for diabetes increased with BMI.

However, the risk for diabetes rose more with increasing WHR than with increasing waist circumference, at least for obese and normal weight participants.

In addition, there were 15 times as many obese participants with low WHR than with a low waist circumference, and 23 times as many normal-weight participants with high WHR than with high waist circumference.

"Therefore, if BMI is used to measure diabetes risk, the assessment will be altered for many more patients based on WHR than on waist," say the researchers.

According to the American Heart Association, WHR is less accurate than BMI or waist circumference for predicting diabetes risk and is no longer recommended, they write.

"Our findings do not support this assessment for White postmenopausal women," says the team.

"Instead, the findings suggest that risk assessment for diabetes in these women can be improved by incorporating information on WHR in addition to BMI."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Sally Robertson

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