Study highlights the need for more personalized approach to measuring BMI

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The results of an extensive new study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Ethnic-specific BMI cut-off points for obesity based on type 2 diabetes mellitus risk: a cohort study of 1.5 million people in England, presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) and published simultaneously in the leading journal, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology reveal that inaccurate and outdated interpretations of the standard Body Mass Index (BMI) values for patients from BAME backgrounds in England could potentially be putting their health at risk.

Researchers from four leading institutions [the University of Warwick, the University of Oxford, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and UCL Institute of Health Informatics] came together in partnership with the Ethnic Health Forum to publish the pioneering study, analyzing data from over 1 million BAME people from England using both GP and hospital records. The study consisted of individuals aged 18 years and older and registered with a UK general practice between 1990 and 2018. 1,472,819 people with complete BMI and ethnicity data with at least one year follow up (1,333,816 White, 75,956 South Asian, 49,349 Black, 10,934 Chinese, 2,764 Arab) were included in the analysis. They used statistical models to confirm whether adults from BAME groups had an equivalent risk of type 2 diabetes at a lower BMI than the White European population.

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