The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) states that the risk of weight related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, of around 8 million people in the UK is not properly reflected by the current BMI boundaries.
The 8 million people refer to people from non-white backgrounds that are carrying excess weight but not enough to move them out of the ‘healthy’ range for BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. Currently the BMI system marks people as overweight if they have a BMI value of 25 to 29.9 and as obese if their BMI is 30 or more.
People from non-white backgrounds, such as people of South Asia, African-Caribbean and Middle Eastern descent, are up to six times more likely to develop weight related health conditions which include type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Recent research now also gives strong evidence that people with non-white backgrounds also develop conditions such as type 2 diabetes at significantly lower BMI values.
NICE recommend that the healthy weight windown, for ethnic groups at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and other weight related conditions, should be between 18.5 and 22.9. In addition, the boundary for identifying people as obese should be reduced as well to include anyone from these backgrounds with a BMI of 27.5 or more.
Changes to the BMI boundaries would ensure that people with ethnicities that put them at greater risk of diabetes are not falsely reassured that they’re at a lower risk of developing the condition than they actually are. Changes will also ensure that doctors are better able to identify a greater number of patients that are at a higher risk and able to provide lifestyle interventions at an earlier stage to prevent insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes from developing.

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