Don't Have to Be Obese for Risk
Measuring the waist circumference of overweight patients can help doctors identify patients with a risk of future diabetes that's equal to the risk faced by obese people. Researchers, publishing their findings in PLoS Medicine, say that some overweight men and women with large waists have an equivalent risk of diabetes as obese people. WebMD reports that a large waist for a woman is 35 inches or more, and for men it's 40 inches or more. Obese people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more and non-obese people with large waists have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
Pelvic Widening Happens
Skeletal enlargement, thought to stop by about age 20 along with skeletal maturity, continues throughout life says a study that finds that, while we stop growing taller, we continue to widen into old age. "Until recently we assumed this was caused simply by an increase in body fat. Our findings suggest that pelvic growth may contribute to people becoming wider and having a larger waist size as they get older, whether or not they also have an increase in body fat," says senior author Dr. Laurence E. Dahners, UNC. A one-inch differential was recorded in the pelvic widths of volunteers, ages 20 to 79. This could lead to a three-inch increase in waist size and a significant amount of body fat over a person’s lifetime, say researchers who used CT scans to confirm their findings.
Measuring Tape Trumps BMI
BMI (body mass index) is a poor measure of heart risk, but measuring waist size is an accurate way to predict the risk of dying early from heart attack or other causes. Study findings were reported in Journal of the American College of Cardiology. According to CNN, the study reveals that measuring BMI, but not body shape, is a flawed method of predicting heart risk since it doesn't take into account fat distribution. Previous studies have shown that a large waist size (greater than 35 for women or 40 for men) increases death risk. The new study findings help reinforce the need for doctors to consider waist size, perhaps even telling normal weight patients to lose belly fat.
Waist Not, Want Not
With the growing rate of childhood obesity, healthcare practitioners say it’s not too early to identify children who may be at risk for heart disease as they age. Researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute examined data from 4667 children, ages 6 to 17, and found that their waist size correlated with risk factors for heart disease while the current screening method of determining body mass index did not. "This study suggests pediatricians add their waist measurements to their routine screening of children to help determine the risk of heart-related disorders," says lead author. Dr. Gangadarshni Chandramohan who added that measuring a child’s girth is a simple, cost-effective and valid method of screening for the risk of CV disease.
More Than Conventional Factors
A larger waist size is an overlooked risk factor for diabetes says a new study that compared American and British adults. "Americans carry more fat around their middle sections than the English, and that was the single factor that explained most of the higher rate of diabetes seen in the United States, especially among American women," said researcher James P. Smith, who added, "Waist size is the missing new risk factor we should be studying." Conventional risk factors such as obesity and age were similar for both the UK and US populations taking part in the study. Researchers say there are many reasons, including diet, that may account for larger waist sizes in the US. Previous studies indicate that abdominal fat may have a specific dysfunction that may lead to diabetes.