(HealthDay News) — Prevalence of diabetes should be used to guide development of ethnic-specific cutoffs for obesity that are equivalent to those developed for white populations, according to research published online June 29 in Diabetes Care.

Uduakobong E. Ntuk, MPH, of the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from 490,288 participants (96.1% white, 2.0% South Asian, 1.6% black, and 0.3% Chinese). The authors sought to derive ethnic-specific cutoffs for obesity equivalent to those for whites according to diabetes prevalence.

The researchers found that nonwhite participants were two to four times more likely to have diabetes. According to the equivalent prevalence of diabetes in white participants at a body mass index (BMI) of 30kg/m², the BMI cutoffs for obesity in the other ethnic groups were as follows: blacks, 26.0kg/m²; Chinese men, 26.0kg/m²; Chinese women, 24.0kg/m²; and South Asians, 22.0kg/m². For women, a waist circumference of 88cm in whites was equivalent to 79cm in blacks, 74cm in Chinese, and 70cm in South Asians. For men, a waist circumference of 102cm in whites was equivalent to 88cm in blacks, 88cm in Chinese, and 79cm in South Asians.

“Obesity should be defined at lower thresholds in nonwhite populations to ensure that interventions are targeted equitably based on equivalent diabetes prevalence,” the authors write.

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