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NICE urges local authorities to use lower BMI measure for ethnic minorities

7 February 2014 - 2:51pm

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has released a new briefing for local authorities, advising them to use lower body mass index (BMI) thresholds for ethnic minority groups.

The guidance is designed to make council staff aware that black, Asian and other ethnic minority people are at greater risk than white people of developing diabetes and cardiovascular conditions at a lower BMI.

The briefing advises councillors and local government officers to use a BMI reading of 23 kg/m2 as a threshold for all people from an ethnic minority background.

This figure is lower than the previously used reading of 25kg/m2, which is still deemed a suitable threshold for white European adults.

NICE says BMI readings of 23kg/m2 or above should now signify that a person from an ethnic minority requires lifestyle interventions in order to avoid ill health.

Raising awareness

The NICE briefing sets out a series of suggestions for local authorities, which are designed to help prevent and tackle long-term conditions in their diverse populations.

The recommendations include

  • raising awareness among decision makers, practitioners and people from minority ethnic backgrounds about the importance of intervening at a lower BMI
  • commissioning prevention services that include a targeted component for people from ethnic minorities who are aged 25-39
  • providing training for staff on how to encourage people to have a risk assessment and promote a healthy lifestyle

Public Health England has recently published new local authority data which reveals that 64 per cent of adults in England are overweight or obese.


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