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07-06-2012 | General practice | Article

Tool simplifies diabetes weight goals


Br J Gen Pr 2012;


: e411-e414

MedWire News: Researchers have developed an online calculator that enables GPs to quickly calculate how much weight a patient needs to lose in order to cut their excess risk of developing diabetes.

The tool converts the unit reduction in body mass index (BMI) needed into a simple body weight measure - and shows how much the patient will cut their risk for diabetes over the next 10 years if they lose the weight.

"The practical implication of people changing their BMI is difficult to grasp because a person's weight can be reduced but not their height," explain Professor Nicholas Wald (Queen Mary University of London) and colleagues. So, for example, it is clearer to tell them that they need to reduce their weight by 12% and convert this to their target weight loss goal in kg, rather than telling them they need to move from a BMI of 25 to 22 kg/m2.

The researchers describe the 'Beat Diabetes Calculator' (click here) in the British Journal of General Practice. The algorithm is based on data from two large cohorts of US professionals, which show that above the 'ideal' BMI of 22 kg/m2, the age-adjusted risk of diabetes increases linearly such that each 2.5-unit increase approximately doubles the risk.

Acknowledging that BMI does not necessarily reflect excess fat, for example in athletes, the authors say that a simple work-around is to assume men and women with waist measurements below 85 and 75 cm, respectively, are not at risk regardless of their BMI.

"Informing a person of their weight-reduction goal… should help focus attention on what needs to be known to avoid the substantial risks of diabetes arising from being overweight," the researchers write. "Even if a person's weight-reduction goal is only partially achieved, the gains are considerable and still worthwhile."

MedWire News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price