MOST people know the importance of monitoring their weight when it comes to lowering their risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
But now height – or lack of – may also play an important role when it comes to getting the deadly lifelong condition.
Shorter people have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes, in comparison to those with a tall stature[/caption]
Shorter people have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes, in comparison to those with a tall stature, a new study, published in Diabetologia, has revealed that
And researchers, from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, found that every 10cm of extra height is associated with a 41 per cent decreased risk of diabetes in men and a 33 per cent decreased risk in women.
They believe higher liver fat content and other risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin resistance, could be to blame.
Scientists looked at medical records of 27, 548 volunteers across Potsdam in Germany – 16,644 women aged between 25 and 65 years and 10,904 men aged between 40 and 65 years.
Researchers investigated the participants’ body weight, total body height, sitting height, waist circumference and blood pressure.
The study found that the risk of future type 2 diabetes was lower by 41 per cent for men and 33 per cent for women for each 10cm extra height, when taking into account age, potential lifestyle influences, education and waist circumference.
The risk appeared to be greater in normal-weight individuals, with an 86 per cent lower risk per 10cm larger height in men, and 67 per cent lower risk per 10cm larger height in women.
In overweight and obese individuals, each 10cm larger height was associated with diabetes risk being 36 per cent lower for men and 30 per cent lower for women.
Larger leg length
The researchers, including Dr Clemens Wittenbecher and Professor Matthias Schulze, said: “This may indicate that a higher diabetes risk with larger waist circumference counteracts beneficial effects related to height, irrespective of whether larger waist circumference is due to growth or due to consuming too many calories.”
Larger leg length was also associated with a lower risk of diabetes.
There was a slight difference though between men and women – with a larger sitting height at the cost of leg length relating to increased risk in men, while amongst women both leg length and sitting height contributed to lower risk.
The researchers also claimed that the growth spurts boys have before puberty will also have a positive impact on lowering the risk of diabetes later in life than growth during puberty.
For girls, both growth periods were shown to be important.
Despite this, the researchers found that liver fat contributed to the higher risk among shorter individuals.
When the results were adjusted for liver fat content, the men’s reduced risk of diabetes per 10cm larger height was 34 per cent, and the women’s reduced risk was just 13 per cent.
The researchers said: “Our findings suggest that short people might present with higher cardiometabolic risk factor levels and have higher diabetes risk compared with tall people.
“These observations corroborate that height is a useful predictive marker for diabetes risk and suggest that monitoring of cardiometabolic risk factors may be more frequently indicated among shorter persons, independent of their body size and composition.
Symptoms of diabetes
Many of the common signs of diabetes could be caused by other things – they don’t necessarily mean that you have the condition.
But it’s definitely worth visiting your GP if you have a couple of the signs.
- Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
- Being really thirsty
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Losing weight without trying to
- Genital itching or thrush
- Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
- Blurred vision
However, six out of ten people have no symptoms when they’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes so if you know that you’re overweight, it might be worth chatting with your GP about having a test regardless.
“Specifically, liver fat contributes to the higher risk among shorter individuals and, because height appears to be largely unmodifiable during adulthood, interventions to reduce liver fat may provide alternative approaches to reduce risk associated with shorter height.”
However they added: “Our study also suggests that early interventions to reduce height-related metabolic risk throughout life likely need to focus on determinants of growth in sensitive periods during pregnancy, early childhood, puberty and early adulthood, and should take potential sex-differences into account.”
They concluded: “We found an inverse association between height and risk of type 2 diabetes among men and women, which was largely related to leg length among men.
Our findings suggest that short people have higher diabetes risk compared with tall people
Researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke
“Part of this inverse association may be driven by the associations of greater height with lower liver fat content and a more favourable profile of cardiometabolic risk factors, specifically blood fats, adiponectin and C-reactive protein.”
Diabetes is a life-long health condition which affects around 3.5 million people in the UK – and experts estimate there are up to 549,000 people living with diabetes who don’t know it yet.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease – accounting for between 85 and 95 per cent of all cases, according to Diabetes UK.
It develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin.
It can also be triggered when the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly.
Who is at risk from type 2 diabetes?
Typically, people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes from the age of 40, but there are some exceptions.
In people from southern Asia the disease can appear as early as 25.
And the condition is becoming more prevalent in children and teenagers of all ethnicities.
Experts suggest the rising rates of type 2 diabetes is due to the obesity epidemic – a key cause of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be treated with drugs, and many people can reverse their condition by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
More on diabetes
On November 22, 2018, it was revealed that there are nearly 7,000 children and young adults under the age of 25 with type 2 diabetes in England and Wales.
That’s almost ten times higher than the previously reported number, according to Diabetes UK.
The Obesity Health Alliance said it was “hugely concerning” to see so many young people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
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