As part of a nationwide effort to address obesity, experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their counterparts in 10 countries are recommending the use of body measurements, such as body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC), to predict mortality and the development of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
This recommendation, published in a report in the January issue of the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is the result of a CDC-sponsored workshop on the use of
adult anthropometry (body measurement) for public health and primary health care.
"The data presented by the panel of international experts showed that cut-off
points for body mass index and waist circumference consistently identify the health
risks of excess weight.," said Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of CDC’s diabetes
program. "These are simple, inexpensive and reliable tools for primary care
doctors to assess the state of their patients’ health," Vinicor said.
BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. WC
adds more health risk information by pointing at body fat distribution around the
According to the report, researchers suspect that, even though BMI and WC are
scientifically sound predictors of common adult chronic conditions, primary care
physicians have not utilized the guidelines issued by the National Institutes of
Health and World Health Organization to assess and treat overweight and obesity in
adults. In fact, the report points out, there are no data on how doctors currently
assess obesity in their patients.
Because a large proportion of the adult population sees a primary care provider
annually, routine monitoring of BMI and WC may provide opportunities to incorporate
prevention into clinical management. Changes in weight or other body measurements
could signal a potential health hazard, such as type 2 diabetes, and would assist the
primary care provider to target interventions that could reduce the risks.
A recent study by CDC found a 33 percent increase in diabetes in the United States
and the increase was strongly correlated with nationwide increases in obesity.
In addition to diabetes, the report suggests that BMI and WC measurements may also
be beneficial in predicting other related health conditions such as coronary heart
disease, arthritis and respiratory problems.
Copies of the meeting report can be obtained by calling the press contact above.
For more information on diabetes and nutrition and physical activity, visit the
following Web sites:
www.cdc.gov/diabetes/ or www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people’s health and
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living through strong partnerships with local, national and international