No easy test exists for predicting the insulin resistance of an individual. Current guidelines suggest a cut-off for heart disease of 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women, but there are questions over the accuracy of these figures. So researchers in Sweden set out to assess the ability of different body measurements and biological markers to predict insulin sensitivity.
Their study involved 2,746 healthy male and female volunteers aged between 18-72 years with body mass indexes from 18-60 kg/m2 and waist circumferences from 65-150 cm.
Height, weight, waist and hip circumference were measured and a blood sample was taken to determine insulin sensitivity. Statistical modelling was then used to assess the predictive power of each variable
Waist circumference was a very strong independent predictor of insulin sensitivity. A waist circumference of less than 100 cm excluded insulin resistance in both sexes. It replaces body mass index, waist:hip ratio, and other measures of total body fat as a predictor of insulin resistance, say the authors.
Waist circumference is a simple tool to exclude insulin resistance and to identify those at greatest risk (therefore those who would benefit most from lifestyle changes), they conclude.