Researchers found that an elevated BMI in adolescence is linked with type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life.
To investigate researchers followed more than 37,000 teenagers for 17 years. Researchers recorded participants BMI at the beginning of the study and again every few years.
Even after accounting for multiple risk factors for both diseases, including age, fasting blood glucose, blood lipids, blood pressure, smoking, exercise habits and family history, researchers found that an increase in BMI, even within the normal range, was linked to developing diabetes and heart disease later in life.
According to the study, every rise in one unit of BMI was associated with about a 10 percent increased risk for type 2 diabetes, and a 12 percent increase in the risk for heart disease.
Remarkably, this elevated risk was significant at a BMI at age 17 of 23.4 Kg/m2 or higher for diabetes and 20.9 Kg/m2 or higher for heart disease.
For diabetes, BMI at age 17 predicted the risk mainly since it associated with BMI later in life. However, for heart disease, both BMI at adolescence, as well as BMI at adulthood independently of each other predicted the risk of the disease. During the 17-year study period, 1,173 new cases of diabetes and 327 new cases of heart disease were diagnosed.
Researchers say this study is significant because it demonstrates that increases in BMI, even when within the currently considered normal values for BMI, has a distinct impact on both diabetes and heart disease.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, more than 1.3 million Canadian has heart disease, while the Canadian Diabetes Association reports that more than 9 million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
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