ADA lowers BMI threshold for diabetes screening Asian-Americans

Considering the fact that Asian-Americans typically developed type 2 diabetes at a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than the rest of the population, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has lowered the threshold for screening of the demographic group, The Asian Age reported.

According to the ADA, now Asian-Americans should get tested for diabetes when their BMI reached 23 or higher, while the general population still needed to be tested at a BMI of 25 or higher.

The recommendation does not, however, lay out new definitions for obesity standards among Asian Americans. The updated guidelines would be released by the ADA in the journal Diabetes Care in January 2015.

''Given that established BMI cut points indicating elevated diabetes risk are inappropriate for Asian-Americans, establishing a specific BMI cut point to identify Asian-Americans with or at risk for future diabetes would be beneficial to the potential health of millions of Asian-Americans,'' the ADA said.

BMI, a number calculated using a person's weight and height, provides a reliable estimate of body fat for most people and is used as a guideline for screening patients for various health problems.

According to Indian doctors, the new standards were important and could be of great help.

Generally people are considered overweight at a BMI of 25, while at 30 they are considered obese, according to the National Institutes of Health. Under the ADA's new guidelines Asian Americans would need to be screened for type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes at a BMI of 23.

Asians appear to develop diabetes at a lower weight as they tend to put on weight around their waists rather than on the thighs or elsewhere on the body reported. Weight gain around the waist is known to pose a greater risk to health.

The population group includes people of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi and Pacific Island ancestry as well as people from China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. The incidence of type 2 diabetes in Asian-Americans is twice that as white Americans, according to an ADA press release.

According to William C Hsu, MD, vice president, International Programs, Joslin Diabetes Center and assistant professor, Harvard Medical School, clinicians had known this intuitively for quite some time. Hsu was lead author of the position paper.

They could see that Asian Americans were being diagnosed with diabetes when they did not appear to be overweight or obese according to general standards, he said. However, if one used the previous [ADA] standard for diabetes screening of being age 45 or older with a BMI of 25 kg/m2 one would miss many Asian Americans who were at risk, he added.