It turns out that one of the best tools used to predict a child’s risk for diabetes or cardiovascular disease can be purchased at your local hardware store: a tape measure. According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity, measuring children’s waist circumference is the best predictor of metabolic health. After following 2,188 Australians between the ages of 7 and 15 for 20 years, researchers used a variety of tests to assess metabolic syndrome in the participants once they reached adulthood and found that those whose waist circumference was in the top quartile for their gender and childhood age had a five to six fold increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome at ages 26 to 36.
“If these results are valid, then it turns out you only have to measure a child’s waist circumference in order to get an idea of their future risk of metabolic disorder, which often leads to diabetes and heart disease,” says Dr. Ross. “This is an important warning sign that can allow parents to deal with obesity issues early on and implement remedies like careful weight loss before it’s too late.”