Timing Matters in Diabetes

Diabetes risk associated with timing and duration of obesity

December 9, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Obesity is the leading cause of diabetes worldwide. And whether you are young or old, being obese can boost your chances of developing diabetes.

According to recent research, the risk of diabetes may be even higher in people who become obese earlier in life.

Results showed that women who became obese before turning 16 have more than twice the odds of having diabetes than women who became obese after age 18.

"Exercise and eat healthy to lower your risk of diabetes."

The study was conducted by Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, of the University of North Carolina, and colleagues. The researchers wanted to see if people's risk of diabetes changed depending on when they became obese and how long they had been obese. They found that both men and women who became obese before turning 18 had a higher risk of diabetes than those who became obese as adults.

Women who became obese before age 16 were more likely than those who became obese after age 18 of developing diabetes, with an odds ratio of 2.77.

An odds ratio is the ratio of the odds of an event happening in one group versus that of another group. A ratio of more than 1.0 means that event has higher odds of happening in the first group than in the second. In this case, the event was developing diabetes.

Results also showed that people who became obese at as teenagers and continued to be obese into adulthood were more likely to develop diabetes.

Compared to men who became obese as adults, those who became obese as teens had higher odds of diabetes, with an odds ratio of 2.27.

Compared to women who became obese as adults, those who became obese earlier in life had higher odds of diabetes, with an odds ratio of 2.08.

According to the authors, these findings highlight the need to address obesity in young people to prevent diabetes.

The study involved 10,481 participants. Among those between 24 and 33 years of age, 4.4 percent had diabetes. Diabetes rates were higher in blacks and Hispanics than in whites. The study was published December 5 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

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Review Date: 
December 6, 2012
Last Updated:
February 21, 2013