BMI diabetes pointers are placing folks of color in danger, U.Okay. research says


TORONTO – The body mass index (BMI) limits used to determine the risk of obesity and diabetes are unsuitable for diagnosing and treating people of color and could endanger their health, according to a new study.

The UK study of 1.5 million people found that blacks, Asians and other people of non-white ethnic background were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes with a much lower BMI than white patients. And scientists said that many color patients will “slip through the web” if doctors continue to use broad guidelines established with white patients as a measuring stick.

“Lots [people of colour] will slip unnecessarily through the web, unwittingly putting you at risk for type 2 diabetes, ”said Dr. Rishi Caleyachetty, the study’s lead author and epidemiologist at the University of Warwick in the UK, in a press release.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Diabetes And Endocrinology, called for new ethnically specific BMI limits. But if that doesn’t happen, she and others would be extremely concerned.

“A blanket approach is no longer acceptable,” added co-author Dr. Paramjit Gill, professor of general medicine and head of the department of health sciences at the University of Warwick, added in the press release. “This work shows that we need evidence for all races as they are at risk for diabetes at different BMI levels.”

A person’s BMI is calculated by analyzing their height and weight. Currently, in the UK and Canada, a person’s BMI of 30 kg m-2 or more is considered obese. and doctors then typically take precautions to prevent them from developing type 2 diabetes. But this threshold is too wide, say the researchers.

When compared to white patients of similar age and sex, the study found that BMI limits were much lower in determining diabetes risk for people of color:

  • for South Asians: 23.9;

  • Chinese: 27;

  • Black: 28.2; and

  • Arabs: 26.8.

This means that if doctors want to better assess a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes, they should consider people’s ethnicity.

Canadian experts have had similar concerns about BMI restrictions for years.

“This is no surprise,” said Canadian obesity specialist Dr. Sean Wharton in a phone interview with “They were designed primarily for white men and did not speak to South Asian women, African American women, or many other ethnic groups.”

Wharton, the medical director of a clinic specializing in weight and diabetes management in Burlington, Ontario, said that differences in BMI limits are due to subtle differences in the way people of different ethnic backgrounds store excess energy in their bodies.

He said the study confirms that BMI values ​​should not be used to determine whether someone is obese or to assess their actual health risks. And Wharton and his colleagues criticized doctors and public health officials for using BMIs in deciding health measures, which he noted in the recommendations published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“We shouldn’t be using a BMI. We should take into account the specific health-related aspects like their blood pressure or glucose, ”he said, adding that he was frustrated that countries fail to consider ethnic diversity in patients as it has resulted in different health outcomes. like an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Canada is a diverse population and we should treat them as such.”