Researchers followed people over age 65 for more than 12 years in one of the largest and longest studies ever to examine the impact of obesity and weight gain on diabetes risk in the elderly.
Overall, people in the study who weighed the most were two to six times more likely to develop diabetes during the follow-up as people who weighed the least.
Over the 12-year study period, 339 new cases of diabetes were diagnosed among the study participants. The researchers found that BMI at baseline, BMI at 50 years of age, weight, fat mass, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, and waist-height ratio were all strongly related to the risk of diabetes.
Participants in the highest category of weight had an approximately 2- to 6-fold increased risk of developing diabetes compared with those in the lowest category.
Also, compared with participants whose weight remained more or less stable over the time period, those who gained 20 lbs. or more between the age of 50 years and study entry had an approximately 3-fold greater risk of developing diabetes during follow-up, regardless of their BMI at 50 years of age.
Participants who were obese at 50 years of age and who experienced the most weight gain (more than 20 lbs.) between the age of 50 years and study entry had 5 times the risk of developing diabetes compared with weight-stable participants with normal BMI (less than 25) at 50 years of age.
Results of this study affirm the importance of maintaining optimal weight during middle age for prevention of diabetes and suggest that weight control remains important in reducing diabetes risk among adults 65 years of age and older.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, risk factors for diabetes include; a family history of the disease, being overweight, having high cholesterol or blood pressure or are a member of a high risk group including being of Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian or African descent.
The findings were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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