Currently, all UK adults are recommended a BMI of 25 as a healthy target. But researchers at National Institute for Health and Care Excellence have warned that a BMI of 23, not 25 should be used in identifying risk of diabetes for people from minority ethnic groups
BMI is a standard core measure used to identify risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease, but the one-size-fits-all approach of 25 “may be being applied wrongly” to people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups, the institute experts have warned.
Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among black Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi men aged 35-54 than the general UK population, its research found. Among women, type 2 diabetes is more common among Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups (aged 35 and over), it added.
“The point at which the level of body fat becomes risky to health varies between ethnic groups,” said Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE.
NICE has urged healthcare workers to follow its new guidance to reduce the risks to people from minority ethnic groups of diseases linked to lifestyle and weight.
“There is clear evidence that people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups are at a higher risk of diabetes than white populations with the same BMI and waist circumference values - six times higher among South Asian groups,” said Catherine Law, professor of Public Health and Epidemiology, UCL Institute of Child Health and chair of the group that developed the guidance.
“The disease also tends to develop at a younger age and progression is faster,” Law added.
NICE has also urged UK healthcare workers to raise the awareness among black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups that they face an increased risk of chronic health conditions at a lower BMI than the white population.