an asian man holding his belly while looking at it

​Question: Which of these four body types is/are linked with a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes?


Scroll down to check your answers.

​We know that being overweight or obese puts one at a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes​.

What we may not know is that people who looked thin can and do get Type 2 diabetes. In this article, you will find out why. You will also learn how to use waist circumference to measure central obesity.

​Thin on the Outside but Fat on the Inside

Asians have a "thrifty" phenotype (body type) which means their bodies are made to store extra energy from the food they eat in the form of f​at​.

The excess fat tends to collect in the abdomen (belly). Since belly fat is found deep inside the body and surrounds internal organs, such as the liver and kidneys, the Asian person can look trim and yet have a higher body fat compared to the Caucasian. Indeed, for the same body mass index (BMI), Asians with higher body fat are more likely to develop diabetes compared to Caucasians.


As the person looks fat around the centre of the body, we refer to it as "central obesity" or an "apple" body type. There is a strong link between central obesity and diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease​, and certain cancers​.

​Related: How Does Belly Fat Increase Your Risk of Diabetes?


That is why the correct answers to the question are: B, C, and D.

  • Although the person in B looks trim, she is centrally obese and may still be at risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • ​The persons​ in C and D are overweight and are at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes than the person in A, who has a healthy weight and is not centrally obese.

 

So What Does This Mean for You?

BMI doesn't tell the whole story.

To check your diabetes risk, measure your waist circumference in addition to your BMI.

 ​​​Y​ou are at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes if your waist ci​rcumference is:​
Men90 cm (35.5 inches) and greater​
Women​​​​80 cm (31.5 inches) and greater
Source:   Report of a WHO Expert Consultation, Geneva, 8th -11th Dec 2008: p. 20, 27-28.


 


If you have any of the risk fac​tors​ for Type 2 diabetes, go for regular health screening to detect diabetes early.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 39, find out your risk by taking the Diabetes Risk Assessment. Take the first step towards beating diabetes.

​Related: Know Your BMI

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