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Overweight and obesity in childhood increase risk for future diabetes

Obesity 2009; Advance online publication

 Children who are overweight or obese at the age of 5 years are more likely to develop Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes by the age of 21 years, show results published in the journal Obesity.

Studies have consistently reported a link between childhood overweight and excess weight gain and development of Type 2 diabetes in later life. Recent results indicate that the same may be true for Type 1 diabetes, with increased childhood fatness associated with earlier onset.

Abdullah Mamun (University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) and colleagues assessed the potential associations between overweight and obesity in early childhood and onset of diabetes in early adulthood in a group of 2639 Australian young adult participants of the Mater-University study of pregnancy (MUSP).

MUSP participants had measurements of height and weight taken at the age of 5 years and self-reported incidence of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes at age 21 years.

In total, 41 (1.5%) participants reported having diabetes (Type 1 or 2) at the 21-year follow up. The researchers found that individuals who had a high body mass index (BMI) z-score or who were overweight at 5 years were more likely to have developed diabetes by the age of 21 years than those of normal weight at 5 years (odds ratio=1.67 and 2.60, for high BMI z-score and overweight, respectively).

This association was still valid following adjustment for factors such as intrauterine environment factors, childhood dietary patterns, television watching, physical activity, and current weight.

More specifically, the average BMI at age 5 years for later diabetics was 16.84 compared with 15.98 for those who remained nondiabetic at study completion.

“Findings of this study suggest that body mass may be central to the development and rising incidence of all diabetes,” conclude the authors.

“As our results were focused on the BMI at age 5, this early warning provides an opportunity to at least delay, if not avert the progression to diabetes.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

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