Teenage weight tied to odds of diabetes-related death decades later

October 21, 2016 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Teenage weight tied to odds of diabetes-related death decades later

The increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and eventually dying from the disease, begins early in life and at weights in the “normal” range, a new study suggests.

Researchers followed the fates of millions of Israeli teenagers weighed at age 17, and found a steady increase in the likelihood of death from diabetes-related causes up to age 70 that was tied to heavier weights in the teen years.

About the study

The researchers used data on more than 2 million Israeli adolescents who underwent a physical examination when they were evaluated for military service between 1967 and 2010. The study team then grouped the teens based on age, sex and body mass index (BMI).

Following the entire group in national medical records, researchers found 481 deaths with diabetes mellitus listed as the underlying cause. The average age at death was 50 years, and diabetes caused about 1.5 percent of all deaths in the group during the follow-up period.

BMIs between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered to be in the healthy range, 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and 30 or above is considered obese.

Higher risk of diabetes mortality even when, as teenagers, individuals had normal weights

The researchers found that starting at a BMI of 22.4, well within the normal range, as teenage BMI rose, the risk of eventual death from diabetes gradually increased as well. Teens with a BMI between 18 and 20 had the lowest overall risk of later dying from diabetes.

Less than 10 percent of 17-year-olds were overweight or obese in the years 1967 to 1977, which increased to 20 percent of teens examined between 2012 and 2014.

One limitations of the study: the researchers did not have adult BMI. It’s possible that obesity as a teen itself is not the problem, but rather that teens with obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity.

Even so, teenagers should make every effort to develop a healthy diet and make physical activity part of their daily lives, regardless of their current weight.

Source: Diabetes Care, online October 12, 2016.

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