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22-06-2010 | Diabetes | Article

Adiposity in mid-life increases later Type 2 diabetes risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Study results suggest that presence of overall and central adiposity, as well as excessive weight gain during middle age and after the age of 65 years, are linked to increased risk for Type 2 diabetes in US adults.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Mary Biggs (University of Washington, Seattle, USA) and colleagues report results from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a prospective cohort study of 4193 US men and women aged 65 years or older. They assessed links between measures of adiposity, derived from anthropometry and bioelectrical impedance data, and incident Type 2 diabetes in the participants.

The study was carried out between 1989 and 2007, with a median follow-up period of 12.4 years. During this time, 339 cases (7.1/1000 person-years) of incident Type 2 diabetes (fasting glucose of 126 mg/dl or greater) were observed.

Individuals in the highest versus the lowest baseline quintile for body mass index (BMI), BMI at age 50 years, weight, fat mass, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist-to-height ratio were 4.3-, 3.0-, 4.2-, 4.0-, 4.2-, 2.4-, and 3.8-fold more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes over the follow-up period.

In addition, participants who gained 9 kg or more between the ages of 50 and 65 years were 2.8 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who were weight stable (+/- 2kg).

Notably, the increases in diabetes risk associated with the various measures of adiposity were halved in older individuals aged 75 years and above compared with those aged 65–74 years.

“Results of this study affirm the importance of maintaining optimal weight during middle age for prevention of diabetes and, while requiring confirmation, suggest that weight control remains important in reducing diabetes risk among adults 65 years of age and older,” conclude Biggs et al.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert