The longer a person is obese, the greater the diabetes risk

The more years a person is obese, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes. That’s according to a study published in the January 2012 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Scientists found that white men aged 40 years with 200 excess body mass index (BMI)-years had almost three times the chance of developing diabetes compared with men of the same age and race with only 100 excess BMI-years.

In addition, younger Hispanic and black individuals had a higher risk of developing diabetes than older people of the same ethnicity with the same given level of excess BMI-years.

The scientists calculated each patient’s excess BMI-years by subtracting the actual BMI from the reference BMI for each study year and totaling the excess BMI for the duration of the study. The reference BMI was 25 for adults and 85th percentile for adolescents.

“Because younger compared with older individuals have a higher risk of self-reported diabetes for a given level of excess BMI-years and cumulative exposure to excess BMI is increasing among younger US birth cohorts, public health interventions should target younger adults,” according to the study authors.

For this study, researchers analyzed data on more than 8,100 adolescents and young adults who were aged 14 to 21 years in 1979. The participants self-reported their height, weight and diabetes from 1981 to 2006. The study presumed type 2 diabetes, although this was not specified.

More than two-thirds of adults aged 20 years and older in the United States are overweight or obese and more than one-third are obese, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2006 and 2007-2008.

Overweight for adults is defined as a BMI of 25 to 30 and obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or greater, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Approximately 17.6 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years were overweight in 2003-2006, according to NHANES.

Sources: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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