Intended for healthcare professionals


Diabetes: BMI cut-offs designed to trigger action are too high for some ethnic populations, say researchers

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 12 May 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1217
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. Tenterden, UK

Researchers have called on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to revise its current guidance on body mass index (BMI) and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as they found that a “one size fits all approach” does not work for adults from ethnic minority backgrounds.1

A large, population based cohort study by the team found that Black Caribbean, South Asian, Chinese, and Arab populations living in England had an equivalent risk of type 2 diabetes at substantially lower BMI values than the current cut-offs for obesity.

In 1993 the World Health Organization defined obesity as a BMI of 30 or more. However, subsequent evidence showed that Asian people were susceptible to diabetes at lower BMIs than White people, and in 2013 NICE lowered the …

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