An Easier Way To Predict Your Risk Of Diabetes

enlarged waist size measurementCombining waist size and triglyceride level may be a quick and easy way to tell if you are at a higher risk for prediabetes and diabetes.

One of the first things you should do to stop prediabetes is to understand what is happening to your metabolism to cause this condition in the first place. Regular readers of Nutrientology are familiar with the term metabolic syndrome (they better be ;-)) and that having the medical conditions that make up this syndrome increases the odds of having full blown type 2 diabetes along with all its potentially life-changing complications.

For those of you who do not know what the term “metabolic syndrome” means, it actually refers to a group of medical conditions that places someone at high risk for future type 2 diabetes. As a matter of fact, I usually refer to this condition as prediabetes-metabolic syndrome.

The 5 medical conditions that make up metabolic syndrome include:

1. elevated blood sugar levels

2. increased blood pressure

3. elevated triglyceride levels

4. reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (HDL-C)

5. overweight/obesity (particularly having fat accumulation deep in the mid-section)

If you have any 3 out of these 5 medical condition risk factors you have metabolic syndrome. You are at risk for prediabetes and full type 2 diabetes.


Another possible easier way to tell whether you may be prone to diabetes

Research suggests there is another way to tell if you may have a prediabetic metabolic problem, and be at a higher risk for developing full type 2 diabetes along with its potentially devastating side effects, including the foot and leg problems that I see on a regular basis.

A simple way to tell if you may be heading toward a diabetes diagnosis involves simply looking at two numbers:

1. Your waist line measurement

2. Your triglyceride level

triglyceridesIf you have elevated triglyceride levels and an enlarged waist measurement, you have what is called, “hypertriglyceridemic waist” or HTGW, for short.

Stay with me, I know I just used a word with 8 syllables, and you’re wondering what the heck is a triglyceride level. Triglycerides are a type of fat that can be measured in your bloodstream. Your triglyceride level just measures how much of this fat you have in your bloodstream. This number can be found along with your total cholesterol level when your doctor runs a blood test to check your total cholesterol and the different types of cholesterol in your blood. “Hypertriglyceride” just means your level is high, thus the prefix, “hyper.”  This blood test is often referred to as a “lipid panel.”

You have HTGW if:

Along with a triglyceride level over about 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L),

Your waist measurement is over 35 1/2 inches (90 cm) for men or 31 1/2 inches (80 cm) for women.


The National Cholesterol Education Program sets guidelines for fasting triglyceride levels:

Normal triglycerides is less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Borderline high triglycerides = 150 to 199 mg/dL.

High triglycerides = 200 to 499 mg/dL.

Very high triglycerides = 500 mg/dL or higher.


A recent study looked at how well “high triglyceride-waist” could predict future diabetes compared to how well having metabolic syndrome predicts diabetes.

Researchers tracked a general Chinese population for over 15 years.

Diabetes was determined by medical history or a fasting blood sugar greater than 126 mg/dL ( ≥ 7.0 mmol/L).

HTGW had a similar ability to predict one’s risk for future diabetes when compared to someone having official metabolic syndrome. Rather than considering all five medical conditions that make up metabolic syndrome to see who may be at a higher risk for future diabetes,  the authors believe HTGW might be a quicker and easier way to make this prediction.

As they put it:

HTGW could predict future diabetes independently, and the predictive power was similar to metabolic syndrome. HTGW might be an alternative to metabolic syndrome for predicting future diabetes. For simpler and fewer components, HTGW might be more practical than metabolic syndrome.”

easier way to predict diabetes riskIn other words, even if you do not have 3 out of the 5 medical conditions for an official diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, if your waistline and triglycerides are higher than what I have outlined above, you are still at risk for full diabetes along with the complications that you do not want to experience. And you are definitely at risk for prediabetes, if not already present.

It is believed that HTGW can predict future diabetes because it is related to how much so called visceral fat one has. Visceral fat is the fat that builds up deep in the mid-section abdominal area. It produces inflammation throughout your body, and has been associated with metabolism problems, most importantly the insulin resistance that leads to prediabetes, and eventual full type 2 diabetes.  Some researchers (1) believe simply the amount of body fat, regardless of where it is located could be a problem, and they say what most people know, but too few do…

Therapeutic lifestyle change continues to be the most important intervention in clinical practice to improve adipose tissue function and avoid development of insulin resistance and related cardio-metabolic complications.”

real food - meat and vegetables“Therapeutic lifestyle change” means doing what is advocated at Nutrientology – eat real food, not processed, with a lower intake of non-veggie/fruit carbs; move around regularly in some form of exercise; sleep well; and keep your stress level in check. Most people know that it is increased carbs that expand the waistline, but many do not know that eating excess processed carbs are the main culprit toward an increased triglyceride level as well. (2,3)

You have taken the time to read this. Now, make the move to improve your health, and in the process, ward off the medical conditions and complications that prevent you from living an independent lifestyle into your senior years. Not to mention the money you will save on medical bills!

So, bottom line, even if you do not have high blood pressure, low HDL-C and an increased fasting blood sugar over 100 mg/dL, if you have a large waist with increased triglycerides over 150 mg/dL, YOU are at risk for future diabetes along with its potentially life-changing side-effects.

Act now to reduce your waistline and bring your triglyceride level down!

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About Robert Creighton

Dr. Creighton is a podiatrist and foot surgeon with over 26 years in podiatric practice treating thousands of patients afflicted with the physiological, physical, and psychological side effects and complications of diabetes and pre-diabetes metabolic syndrome. He believes these disorders present a pressing public health concern that need to be more actively addressed in a multidisciplinary way. Dr. Creighton graduated from what is now the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine after receiving his undergraduate degree in Biology. He is certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, a member of the American Public Health Association, an American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and a Member of the American Nutrition Association.

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