Aims: Conventional definitions of obesity, e.g. body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m² or waist circumference cut-points of 102 cm (men) and 88 cm (women), may underestimate metabolic risk in non-Europeans. We prospectively identified equivalent ethnicity-specific obesity cut-points for the estimation of diabetes risk in British South Asians, African-Caribbeans and Europeans.
Methods: We studied a population-based cohort from London, UK (1356 Europeans, 842 South Asians, 335 African-Caribbeans) who were aged 40-69 years at baseline (1988-1991), when they underwent anthropometry, fasting and post-load (75 g oral glucose tolerance test) blood tests. Incident Type 2 diabetes was identified from primary care records, participant recall and/or follow-up biochemistry. Ethnicity-specific obesity cut-points in association with diabetes incidence were estimated using negative binomial regression.
Results: Diabetes incidence rates (per 1000 person years) at a median follow-up of 19 years were 20.8 (95% CI: 18.4, 23.6) and 12.0 (8.3, 17.2) in South Asian men and women, 16.5 (12.7, 21.4) and 17.5 (13.0, 23.7) in African-Caribbean men and women, and 7.4 (6.3, 8.7), and 7.2 (5.3, 9.8) in European men and women. For incidence rates equivalent to those at a BMI of 30 kg/m² in European men and women, age- and sex-adjusted cut-points were: South Asians, 25.2 (23.4, 26.6) kg/m²; and African-Caribbeans, 27.2 (25.2, 28.6) kg/m². For South Asian and African-Caribbean men, respectively, waist circumference cut-points of 90.4 (85.0, 94.5) and 90.6 (85.0, 94.5) cm were equivalent to a value of 102 cm in European men. Waist circumference cut-points of 84.0 (74.0, 90.0) cm in South Asian women and 81.2 (71.4, 87.4) cm in African-Caribbean women were equivalent to a value of 88 cm in European women.
Conclusions: In prospective analyses, British South Asians and African-Caribbeans had equivalent diabetes incidence rates at substantially lower obesity levels than the conventional European cut-points.
© 2014 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Diabetes UK.