Waist Size Alone Predicts Type 2 Risk

Waist circumference may independently predict a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, regardless of whether he or she is obese, according to a new study from researchers in Cambridge, England. There are currently 24 million people in the United States with Type 2 diabetes and another 57 million with prediabetes who are at risk of progressing to Type 2.


Health-care professionals have long used body-mass index (BMI), a measurement of a person’s weight in relation to his height, along with waist circumference to assess Type 2 risk. Obese people (those with a BMI of 30 or more) and nonobese people with a large waist — 35 inches or more in a woman and 40 inches or more in a man — are considered to be at high risk of developing Type 2.

Because BMI gives an indication of overall fat distribution throughout the body, and does not reflect how much fat is in the belly and around the internal organs — visceral fat, or fat around the organs, is a known risk factor for Type 2 — the researchers wanted to determine whether waist circumference alone could be used to help predict a person’s risk for Type 2. They examined data from more than 28,500 people living in Europe who were included in the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) study, which looked at lifestyle and other factors and chronic disease.

Approximately 12,400 of the participants had Type 2 diabetes, while roughly 16,100 did not. Comparing waist and BMI measurements, the researchers found that overweight men and women with very large waists have the same diabetes risk as obese people. The link was found to be particularly strong in women.

According to researcher Claudia Langenberg, MD, PhD, “Our results now provide clear evidence that a simple measurement of waist circumference can identify overweight individuals with a large waist, whose risk of future diabetes is equivalent to that of obese people.”

The researchers suggest that using waist circumference measurements in nonobese people can help identify those who are at high risk of developing Type 2, potentially allowing them to receive lifestyle counseling in time to stave off the condition.

For more information, read the article “Waist Size Alone May Predict Diabetes Risk” or see the study in the journal PLoS Medicine. And to learn about some tried-and-true weight loss strategies, click here.

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  • Mishelle Whitmire

    I just measured my waist and it is right at 40 inches. I was pre diabetic and am now diabetic. So I guess the study was right. Its funny… I always thought my waist was around a 32 and I just measured and it was 40. Geezzzz was I sleeping all this time!!!
    Well Im on a mission now and really Low Carbing it. Ive already lost a few pounds and will not let my sugar get above 140. I have veggies, protien and metformin in hand!

  • K Gilmour

    I was dx w/type 2 in April of ’08. Started out with BG of 227 and A1c of 9.5. In the first 90 days, I got my A1c down to 6.5. I have had to improve my type 2 through my own investigation and research of legitimate and reliable sources of info. Most ‘diabetic’ recipes are not for me, as I do not eat many of the I gradients present in the recipes. I have been rewarded for abstaining from certain ingredients, and recently started learning how carb control uniquely affects my individual condition. So much trial/error/trial/success etc.! The main thing is to “keep on keepin’ on” until you discover what works for you.

    I find that 80% of my simpler carbs (and for me, this is slightly cooked old fashioned rolled oats) for breakfast combined w/3 brazil nuts, 1T. pumpkin seeds and 1t. sunflower seeds or unhulled sesame seeds – all raw – + 1 mini banana or 1 cup of any kind of berries works to keep me full but not stuffed through my morning.

    Lunch = “Frog in a Blender”. : 1 serving whey protein, 1 cap of liquid cal/mag/zinc, 1 scoop of Emerald green powder, 1 scoop of ribose, 1/4 c. plain organic Kefir or Greek yogurt (Fage is best), 1 c filtered water and 1cup frozen berries of your choice. Looks weird but Oh! amazing scrumptious flavor!

    Dinner: lean protein (organic), cooked veg. low starch types, huge salad with homemade vinegar/EVOO dressing. Once in a while a little brown rice, Dreamfield’s pasta or potato; dried prepared beans or quinoa about half a portion.

    My fasting BG used to run in the 140’s (although my random BG would be in the 80’s – 90’s range). I’ve been experiencing am. BG reading in the 1teens 120’s or low 130’s after only ten days of lowering simple carbs to this level. Pm readings remain the same but maybe a tad lower.

    Drastically low carb intake? By some standards, yes, but this is what seems to work for me. Do I miss the carbs? No – I recall how I feel each am, when I prick my finger and get rewarded with these lower readings. A much more promising frame of mind in which to face the day!! 

    I know that the improved carb control along with my hour-a-day walk will continue to peel off the pounds and whittle that waist to bring me closer and closer to greatly improving if not reversing my type 2! Regardless, day by day a is headed in the right direction.

    Never, never, NEVER GIVE UP!

    I get so much encouragement from your articles. Thank you a million times over. Encouragement is a vital and necessary tool for success in anything we do in life.


  • Jamila Mccain

    My name is Jamila and im a Diabetic and my conserse is my blood sugar number is 586 and it is high what can I do to make my blood sugar go down I try taking the medication like medformin and novlog and lantus but my blood sugar still goes up and I dont know what to do i need help!

  • linda gaidasz

    medformin and attendnal last med may be apelled incorecily. How ever 1000 mi;grams a day and I ended up in hospital with kidney failure, total kidney failure. keep watch on you and your body.