BMI may not be the best tool to diagnose type 2 diabetes risk

A person's body mass index, or BMI, is commonly used to diagnose their type 2 diabetes risk. This measurement compares a person's height to their weight. Higher relative proportions indicate poorer general health, which is why it is such a popular tool for diagnosing diabetes susceptibility.

However, evidence continues to suggest that it may not be the most reliable tool, as it makes few allowances for natural variations in people's body types.

For example, a recent study published in the journal Diabetologia showed that men and women tend to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at varying BMIs. Given the fact that BMI is a relative comparison of a person's weight and height, similar standards should apply between men and women.

Yet, researchers from the University of Glasgow found that men are diagnosed at an average BMI of 31.8, while women are diagnosed at an average BMI of 33.6. The researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing the medical records of nearly 52,000 men with diabetes and 43,000 women.

A BMI of 30 or is considered obese for both men and women. In theory, doctors should start testing patients for the condition once they reach this level. However, the findings suggest diabetes sets in at a lower BMI in men than in women, which may limit the utility of the measurement as a predictive tool.

Furthermore, previous investigations have shown that individuals from different ethnic backgrounds develop type 2 diabetes at different BMIs. Therefore, it may be difficult to judge every patient by one set of rigid standards. Some experts have said that measuring abdominal fat or a person's overall fitness level may provide a more accurate picture of their type 2 diabetes risk.