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Body Fat Is Better Indicator of Type 2 Diabetes

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Here’s more reason to apply a battery of assessments when determining a client’s health status. Scientists have found that body fat percentage is a more accurate indicator of a person’s risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes than other popular measures like body mass index.

Researchers from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, examined body fat percentages and BMI scores for 6,335 individuals over age 40 who had never been diagnosed with any form of diabetes. Participants were also assessed for abnormal glucose levels, prediabetes and undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

Upon analysis, the researchers learned that BMI didn’t tell the whole story and that body fat percentage gave them a better picture of subjects’ risk levels. For instance, the study found that 13.5% of individuals with normal BMI but high body fat had abnormal glucose levels, whereas those levels were present in only 10.5% of people with high BMI and low body fat. As a result of this research, the authors are advising health practitioners and professionals to look beyond BMI when assessing an individual’s health and disease risk.

“We hope these findings may inspire physicians and other health professionals to look more closely at the normal BMI population and provide preventive care on time for those who are at risk of developing diabetes,” says Ara Jo, PhD, a clinical assistant professor at the university.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

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