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Screen for Life Waist Circumference Test

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Leon Perera
MP for Aljunied GRC

Question No. 933

To ask the Minister for Health given the recommendation in the HPB-MOH Clinical Practice Guidelines on Obesity (2016) that waist circumference measurement should be used in conjunction with Body Mass Index to identify increased disease risk (a) what is the rationale for the exclusion of the waist circumference measurement in obesity screening under the Screen for Life programme; and (b) whether the Government will consider the inclusion of waist circumference measurement in the Screen for Life programme and other standardised health screening tests.

Written Answer

The Ministry of Health (MOH) takes reference from the Screening Test Review Committee (STRC) recommendations for the population-based screening tests offered under the Screen for Life (SFL) programme. The STRC reviews robust scientific evidence to ensure that the tests are safe, suitable, and cost-effective in detecting the condition screened for at a population level.

The Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference are both considered suitable population screening tests for obesity by the STRC. The BMI test was first included under SFL over the waist circumference measurement as the former was considered a more practical method to measure overweight / obesity, especially in mass screenings, and is done together with screening tests for diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia. To complement the BMI test, MOH is already in the process of including waist circumference measurement under SFL to assess individuals for abdominal obesity, as it is an indicator for higher cardiovascular risk, and will be implementing it soon.

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