Waist size is a good indicator of a person’s risk of insulin resistance -- an early stage in the development of diabetes and heart disease, researchers said on Friday.
Waist circumference is already recognized as an independent sign of potential cardiovascular disease but Swedish scientists said it can also be used to gauge sensitivity to insulin.
“A waist circumference of less than 100 cm (39 inches) excludes individuals of both sexes from being at risk of being insulin resistant,” Hans Wahrenberg, of the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, said in a study reported online by the British Medical Journal.
People who suffer from insulin resistance do not use insulin properly. They may have levels of blood sugars which are higher than normal but not yet in the range indicating pre-diabetes, which raises the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Sufferers of Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, do not make enough or do not properly use insulin. Excess weight is a leading and avoidable risk factor for the illness.
The Swedish researchers studied 2,746 men and women aged 18 to 72 who had waists ranging from 65-150 cm (25-69 inches). They measured their height, weight, waist and hip sizes and took a blood sample to test insulin sensitivity.
They found that waist size was a strong predictor of insulin resistance.
“Waist circumference is a simple tool to exclude insulin resistance and to identify those at greatest risk,” said Wahrenberg.