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Study links large waist size to higher diabetes rates among Americans
Date:10/6/2010

A higher rate of diabetes seen among adult Americans when compared to peers in England is explained primarily by a larger waist size rather than conventional risk factors such as obesity, according to a new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation, University College London and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London.

Researchers say the findings offer more evidence that accumulating fat around the mid-section poses a health risk and suggests that studies of diabetes risk should emphasize waist size along with traditional risk factors.

"Americans carry more fat around their middle sections than the English, and that was the single factor that explained most of the higher rate of diabetes seen in the United States, especially among American women," said James P. Smith, one of the study's author and corporate chair of economics at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Waist size is the missing new risk factor we should be studying."

Other authors of the study are James Banks of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and Meena Kumari and Paolo Zaninotto of the Department of Epidemiology at University College London. The findings were published online by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Researchers say that Americans middle-aged and older are significantly more likely to suffer from diabetes compared to their peers in England despite a similar standard of living. About 16 percent of American men report having diabetes as compared to 11 percent of English men. About 14 percent of American women have diabetes, compared to 7 percent among English women.

An earlier study co-authored by Banks and Smith demonstrated that middle-aged Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts, although medical spending in the United States is more than twice as high as it is in the United Kingdom.

Analyzing studies about the health and lifestyles of large numbers people from the United
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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