Ethnic-specific obesity cutoffs for diabetes risk: cross-sectional study of 490,288 UK biobank participants

Diabetes Care. 2014 Sep;37(9):2500-7. doi: 10.2337/dc13-2966. Epub 2014 Jun 29.

Abstract

Objective: To compare the relationship between adiposity and prevalent diabetes across ethnic groups in the UK Biobank cohort and to derive ethnic-specific obesity cutoffs that equate to those developed in white populations in terms of diabetes prevalence.

Research design and methods: UK Biobank recruited 502,682 U.K. residents aged 40-69 years. We used baseline data on the 490,288 participants from the four largest ethnic subgroups: 471,174 (96.1%) white, 9,631 (2.0%) South Asian, 7,949 (1.6%) black, and 1,534 (0.3%) Chinese. Regression models were developed for the association between anthropometric measures (BMI, waist circumference, percentage body fat, and waist-to-hip ratio) and prevalent diabetes, stratified by sex and adjusted for age, physical activity, socioeconomic status, and heart disease.

Results: Nonwhite participants were two- to fourfold more likely to have diabetes. For the equivalent prevalence of diabetes at 30 kg/m(2) in white participants, BMI equated to the following: South Asians, 22.0 kg/m(2); black, 26.0 kg/m(2); Chinese women, 24.0 kg/m(2); and Chinese men, 26.0 kg/m(2). Among women, a waist circumference of 88 cm in the white subgroup equated to the following: South Asians, 70 cm; black, 79 cm; and Chinese, 74 cm. Among men, a waist circumference of 102 cm equated to 79, 88, and 88 cm for South Asian, black, and Chinese participants, respectively.

Conclusions: Obesity should be defined at lower thresholds in nonwhite populations to ensure that interventions are targeted equitably based on equivalent diabetes prevalence. Furthermore, within the Asian population, a substantially lower obesity threshold should be applied to South Asian compared with Chinese groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biological Specimen Banks
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio