“Normal Weight” Doesn’t Mean No Risk for Diabetes

Chris Stocker

Chris Riley

Chris Riley

Chris is the Founder and CEO of USA Rx. Chris has led the USA Rx team to continue to push for further transparency and more savings options in the U.S. prescription marketplace for the Diabetes community. With COVID-19 transforming and normalizing how consumers view and use digital health, Chris led the transformation of the USA Rx brand to a digital health marketplace.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2023

One of the biggest risk factors for being diagnosed with diabetes is being overweight…. Or is it? A recent study has suggested that even people in “health weight” ranges could still be at a significant risk for diabetes, primarily, type 2 diabetes.

For years, anyone that is overweight or obese has always been considered high-risk for type 2 diabetes. These are the patients that receive Normal Weight and Diabetes Risksthe diabetes screenings, but with new information, it could completely change the way that we look at diabetes risk and who receives the most screenings. Currently, the United States Services Task Force recommends that physicians screen for diabetes only in adults that are considered overweight or obese.

One study looked at data from prediabetics and tried to define certain trends. In 2012, 33% of the adults over the age of 45 who were considered prediabetic were in the healthy weight range. Prediabetes is considered anyone who has an A1c level of 5.7% to 6.5%. These patients are at a high-risk for becoming type 2 diabetes if the condition doesn’t change. Considering how many Americans were prediabetic, but still in healthy weight, we could be missing millions of diabetes diagnoses.

The lead author of the study, Arch Mainous, who is a professor of public health at the University of Florida had several thoughts on the implications of the study, “It is still premature to recommend specific interventions for individuals at healthy weight to prevent diabetes. It may, however, be worthwhile to emphasize resistance exercise in a healthy lifestyle rather than having individuals focus on what the scales say about their weight. Think body composition, not just thin.”

His thoughts perfectly summarize why this data analysis is so important for the healthcare community. While our waistline and weight are crucial factors, they shouldn’t be the primary factor in determining diabetes screenings.

Mainous suggest a serious change to the factors that we look at. Instead of looking at weight, physicians focus on body composition. Body composition looks at the amount of lean body mass versus fat. Unlike strictly looking at the numbers on the scale, it looks more at the overall health of the patient’s weight, which gives a more accurate representation of their risk of being type 2 diabetic.

Simple Tests

The author of the study, Mainous suggest a simple alternative for testing for diabetes or at least of a way of determining which patients need to have glucose tests administered. He says that using a grip strength test could be one of the easiest and quickest ways to see if a patient is at risk for diabetes.

There have been several studies completed that show a connection between a person’s grip strength and their diabetes risk. If the patient is at a healthy weight but has lower grip strength, they are at a high-risk for being either undiagnosed diabetics or prediabetes. Grip strength can easily be tested using a dynamo-meter. There is no need to draw blood or hook anyone up to fancy machines, grip strength could be testing in as little as a minute and give a strong indicator if that patient should have further testing done.

Weight And Diabetes

Right now, physicians focus too much on the weight of a patient and not other risk factors that could contribute to diabetes. It’s important to diagnose diabetes as early as possible. If something as simple as a grip strength test could help catch thousands of more cases of diabetes, isn’t it worth the minute that it will take?

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Owner and author of The Life of a Diabetic. He's been writing about Diabetes related topics for over 10 years, and has been featured in HealthLine, Diatribe, Diabetes Advocates and JDRF.

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