Diabetes Mellitus Risk Higher with Lifetime Dose of Obesity

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Obesity alone may not contribute to type 2 diabetes. Researchers say number of years spent with excess weight and how much also plays a role on the risk for developing the disease. Total lifetime dose of obesity ups the risk of diabetes even more among Hispanics and Blacks, compared to whites.

University of Michigan Health System researchers studied of about 8,000 adolescents to find the “dose” of obesity up the chances of type 2 diabetes. The finding is important in the context of childhood obesity rates.

According to the study authors, diabetes may become even more prevalent than predicted given the number of obese children and adolescents in the United States.

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Joyce Lee, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatric endocrinologist at U-M's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital said, "The amount of excess weight that you carry, and the number of years for which you carry it, dramatically increase your risk of diabetes."

Lee likens diabetes risk from excess weight carried over the years to the risk of lung cancer from smoking.

The study results, published in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, found BMI 25 or over – the combination of weight and height – sustained over a number of years, is a good measure of risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

The risk of diabetes from carrying excess weight was also found to be higher in Blacks and Hispanics in the study for the same amount of weight over an equal number of years, compared to whites. The risk of the disease was double for Hispanics and one and a half times higher for Blacks.

The authors suggest clinician’s factor in the total dose – or number of years a person is overweight, plus the amount of excess weight when assessing a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. Lifetime dose obesity increases the chances of diabetes and is a risk factor that can be predicted early in life.

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