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.
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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.