Can A Little Extra Weight Be Protective in Type 2 Diabetes?

"Lose weight" is a common prescription given to people with type 2 diabetes, but a new study suggests this may not be a necessary requirement for all patients.

Research published by the American College of Physicians found that individuals with type 2 diabetes who were overweight, but not obese, had better survival rates from cardiovascular problems than people who were underweight or normal-weight.

"Compared with normal-weight patients, underweight patients had the worst survival and overweight patients had the best survival," researchers wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

For the study, more than 10,500 patients who had no known cardiovascular problems were followed for an average of 10.6 years.

The 'obesity paradox'

Scientists call this protective effect the obesity paradox - which may be caused by several different factors.

Overweight patients, for example, may experience a different, less severe type of metabolic stress than obese patients. Another possible explanation is that patients with a lower BMI due to smoking and alcohol use might be more prone to developing type 2 diabetes because of these lifestyle factors. Being underweight, too, may be associated with being ill - which could explain why overweight patients may live longer, even if they have a cardiovascular problem.

"The explanation for these results is unknown and does not mean that patients with diabetes should try to become overweight," cautioned the authors. "Patients should continue to follow a healthy lifestyle."

Source: American College of Physicians

Image courtesy of m_bartosch/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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