April 11, 2011 -- Measuring an overweight child’s wrist size appears to be a better predictor of diabetes and heart risk than calculating body mass index, new research suggests.
Wrist size was strongly correlated with insulin resistance in overweight children in the study conducted by researchers at Italy’s Sapienza University of Rome.
The findings suggest that the simple, low-tech practice of using a tape measure to record wrist size could provide clinically useful information about future risk for diabetes and heart disease, lead researcher Raffaella Buzzetti, MD, tells WebMD.
Body fat is highly predictive of insulin resistance and heart disease risk in adults, but this is not as true for children because their bodies change so rapidly around the time of puberty, Buzzetti says.
Wrist circumference has been used for many decades to calculate body frame size, but the study is the first to suggest that it may also help identify children at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
“If these results are confirmed, measuring wrist circumference may prove to be an easy-to-measure marker for cardiovascular risk,” Buzzetti says.