(HealthDay News) — The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has lowered the body mass index (BMI) at which Asian-Americans should be screened for type 2 diabetes.

The new recommendation, published in the January issue of Diabetes Care, is based on evidence that many Asian-Americans develop diabetes at a lower BMI than other Americans. The new guidelines indicate that Asian-Americans should be screened for diabetes when they have a BMI of 23 kg/m² or higher, compared with a BMI of 25 kg/m² or higher for the general population.

It’s believed Asian-Americans develop diabetes at a lower BMI due to differences in their body composition. They tend to have weight gain around the waist — the area of the body where fat poses the greatest risk to health — rather than in the thighs and other parts of the body, according to the ADA.

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“Clinicians have known this intuitively for quite some time,” statement lead author William Hsu, M.D., vice president of international programs at the Joslin Diabetes Center and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, said in an ADA news release. “They can see that Asian-Americans are being diagnosed with diabetes when they do not appear to be overweight or obese according to general standards,” he said. “But if you use the previous association standard for diabetes screening of being age 45 or older with a BMI of [25] or above, you will miss many Asian-Americans who are at risk.”

“The position statement highlights, for the first time, the physiologic differences seen between Asian-Americans and other populations affected by diabetes,” Jane Chiang, M.D., ADA senior vice president for medical affairs and community information, said in the news release.

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