The BMI System For Diabetes Is Failing People Of Colour

Researchers are calling for changes to the BMI system to ensure people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, who are at risk of type 2 diabetes, do not “slip through the net”.

The study, involving 1.5 million people in England, found people of colour are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes at a much lower BMI than people from white ethnic backgrounds. However, outdated “cut-offs” might mean these cases are missed.

The researchers used their findings to create new ethnic-specific obesity cut-off points and are urging the NHS to adopt these as standard practices to avoid people from these backgrounds not being checked for type 2 diabetes as early as their white counterparts.

The study’s principal investigator Dr Rishi Caleyachetty, a junior doctor and epidemiologist at the University of Warwick, sad: “As a doctor, I’m extremely concerned that if the current BMI values are not amended to account for ethnicity, many people will needlessly slip through the net, leaving them unknowingly at risk of type 2 diabetes.

“I meet people from [these] backgrounds who tell me about the lack of information on what a healthy weight is for their community, another person, who had been told they were at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes told me he was surprised because he was not ‘fat’.

“These are just two examples from many cases, indicating that a ‘blanket’ set of BMI values could be disadvantaging people from accessing services to prevent type 2 diabetes.”

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