Are you Asian American? Get Screened for Diabetes if Your BMI is over 23!

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If you are Asian American, then get screened for diabetes if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 23 kg/m2. An elevated BMI is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, and the standard BMI cut point of 25 kg/m2 for the general population in the United States is too high for Asian Americans.

Are you Asian American? Get Screened for Diabetes if Your BMI is over 23!

If you are Asian American, then get screened for diabetes if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is 23 kg/m2 or higher. BMI is your body weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. An elevated BMI is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, and in Asian Americans that happens when the BMI reaches or exceeds 23 kg/m2. For basic information about the BMI, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The BMI cut point for diabetes screening for Asian Americans was recently changed - you can read about it in Hsu's article published in the January 2015 edition of Diabetes Care. The BMI cut point of 25 kg/m2 for diabetes screening for the rest of the population still applies.

The change in BMI cut point for Asian Americans is a big deal. Let's take an example. If my height is 5'2" and my weight is 130 lb, then my BMI is 23.8 kg/m2. If my doctor is using the updated guidelines, then I should be screened for diabetes if I am an Asian American adult, especially if I am 45 years or older. However, if I go to a clinic that is still using the standard BMI cut point of 25 kg/m2, then I probably won't get screened for diabetes. This means I miss an opportunity to detect prediabetes or diabetes if it has started to develop. The earlier the detection, the earlier I can manage and control complications (such as eye, nerve, and kidney damage) or prevent it altogether.

Do not assume that you are at low risk for diabetes because you look small or at least small compared to others around you. Determine your BMI using an online calculator. MyNetDiary members, you can view your BMI in Plan or Details (web program), or in the Weight row (app). If your BMI is at or above 23 kg/m2, then ask your doctor to screen you for diabetes. If your doctor assures you that your BMI is too low, then give him/her a copy of Hsu's article for reference.

The Asian American Diabetes Initiative, Joslin Center for Diabetes, has a very helpful website, including a BMI calculator for Asian Americans. You might also find this blog post helpful: "Are You at Risk for Diabetes". Enjoy and be well.

Diabetes->Preventing Diabetes
Mar 3, 2015
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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