Nearly a third of children in North America are overweight or obese. But it’s difficult for doctors to tell which of these kids also have insulin resistance, which makes them much more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease in the future. Now researchers in Italy may have discovered a way: Measuring the size of the wrist bone.
The study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, looked at 477 overweight and obese children, and found “a close relationship” between wrist bone size and insulin levels — the larger the wrist, the higher the levels of insulin resistance. It builds on research that’s found that insulin is connected to insulin-like grown factor, which makes kids heavier and bones grow larger.
“It’s very innovative,” said Dr. Chi-Ming Chow, a cardiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and a spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Many doctors now supplement the traditional body mass index (BMI) scale with waist circumference measurements, he said. (He also told me waist circumference research was pioneered by a Canadian — who knew!) But both those measurements do better in predicting which adults will have problems than they do in kids. “Wrist measurements may very well evolve into part of the routine measurements doctors perform, as waist circumference has done.”