MONDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- It's long been known that
obesity increases diabetes risk, but a new study finds that the
amount of excess weight someone carries -- and how long it's
carried -- can make that risk even higher.
That's especially worrisome given the growing number of obese
children and teens who will spend more years of their lives obese
than prior generations, researchers from the University of Michigan
Health System warn in a university news release.
"Our study finds that the relationship between weight and type 2 diabetes is similar to the relationship between smoking and the risk of lung cancer," said the study's lead author Dr. Joyce Lee, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. "The amount of excess weight that you carry, and the number of years for which you carry it, dramatically increase your risk of diabetes."
This has the potential to continue to push up rates of diabetes
in the United States, Lee added.
"We know that, due to the childhood obesity epidemic, younger generations of Americans are becoming heavier much earlier in life, and are carrying the extra weight for longer periods over their lifetimes," said Lee. "When you add the findings from this study, rates of diabetes in the United States may rise even higher than previously predicted."
Researchers examined information on roughly 8,000 teens and
young adults and calculated how far above a certain body mass index
(or BMI, a calculation based on weight and height) they were and
for how long. The study found those with a BMI of 25 or higher
(overweight) or 35 and higher (30 and up is obese) for a greater
length of time had a higher risk of diabetes.
For example, individuals with a body mass index of 35 for 10
years were considered to have the equivalent of 100 years of excess
BMI -- a considerable cumulative "dose" of excess weight.
What's more, black and Hispanic participants had a higher risk
for diabetes than whites with the same amount of excess weight over
time, the researchers noted. Among those with a BMI of 35 or more,
Hispanics were twice as likely to develop diabetes than whites.
Blacks in this group also had a 1.5 times greater risk of
developing diabetes than whites.
The study's authors said the findings suggest obesity prevention
programs should focus on teens and young adults, particularly
The study was published online ahead of the September print
issue of the
Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on the
health consequences of obesity.