Ethnic minorities from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean are at a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, but body mass index calculations at present do not work in their favor. By lowering the BMI threshold for obesity, eight million additional people will be covered and get access to the required care or treatment.
A typical healthy BMI is currently 18.5 to 24.9, but NICE suggests lowering this range to 18.5 to 23 instead. The cutoff for being classified as obese requires a BMI of 30 or higher at present, and in order to include ethnic minorities this should be lowered to 27.5.
"Not only are people from these ethnic backgrounds up to six times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they are 50 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. And they also suffer from these conditions at a younger age," said Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE.
Kelly said that by changing the BMI requirements, it would give more people access to preventive measures and prevent early onset of such diseases.