The study examined the association between waist circumference, body-mass index (BMI, a measurement of body fat based on height and weight) and type 2 diabetes.
Both waist circumference and BMI were associated independently with diabetes risk, but waist circumference was a stronger risk factor in women than in men, Claudia Langenberg, of the Institute of Metabolic Science at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, England, and colleagues said in a news release from the Public Library of Science.
The findings, published online June 5 in the journal PLoS Medicine, suggest that measuring waist circumference in overweight people could be an effective way to prevent diabetes, because it would identify high-risk people who may benefit from counseling about lifestyle changes, the researchers said.
“Our results clearly show the value that measurement of [waist circumference] may have in identifying which people among the large population of overweight individuals are at highest risk of diabetes,” the study authors said.
About one-third of people in the United States and United Kingdom are overweight, Langenberg and colleagues noted in the news release.
Although the study showed an association between larger waist circumference and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Waist Size, BMI, and Diabetes Risk
About 19 million Americans have diagnosed diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Most have type 2. The body does not make enough of the hormone insulin or the cells don’t use it effectively.