Overweight Girls Can Become Diabetic in Adulthood: Girls who are overweight heading into adulthood run a greater risk of developing diabetes as an adult. According to a new study if those girls can lose the weight before becoming an adult they may be able to substantially reduce the potential risk of diabetes development.
According to a recent report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “The study was conducted by researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Along with the NICHD, two other NIH institutes, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provided funding for the analysis.
The study followed 109,172 female nurses from 1989 to 2005, noting how many developed diabetes during that time. An initial survey collected information about the women’s health, history and lifestyle habits. One question asked them to pick which of a series of diagrams best matched their body shape at ages 5, 10 and 20. The series of nine line drawings depicted female silhouettes of different sizes, ranging from gaunt (size 1) to obese (size 9). The nurses were also asked to provide their height and current weight and to estimate their weight when they were 18. Every two years after the initial survey, the women submitted follow-up information including whether they developed diabetes.
The findings were also released through the June 2010 online edition of Diabetes Care.
This long-running study, “found that the nurses who were overweight as girls were more likely to become diabetic as adults. Women who indicated that their size at age 5 matched or exceeded the size 6 figure were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes as those who recalled matching the size 2 figure. The women indicating the size 6 or above at age 10 were 2.57 times as likely to develop diabetes as adults. Those who reported a body mass index of more than 30 (considered obese) at age 18 were almost nine times more likely to develop diabetes than their normal-weight counterparts (BMI of 18–19).”
The statistics in this study suggest that managing weight prior to adulthood can be very important in decreasing the likelihood of diabetes. “In the study, the researchers also examined the combined effect of extra weight at various ages. Compared with women who were not overweight at key ages in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, those who indicated they were overweight at all three ages were 15 times more likely to develop diabetes. Conversely, women who recalled being overweight at age 10 but not overweight as adults were no more likely to become diabetic than their peers who had been normal-weight children.
“When the women entered the study, they averaged 34 years old. At that time, they were asked to recall their weight at age 18. The researchers found that women who gained weight after age 18 also increased their diabetes risk. Those who gained more than 25 pounds increased their diabetes risk more than 20 times. On the other hand, women who recalled being overweight or obese at age 18 and subsequently lost 10 pounds or more decreased their risk by more than half, compared with overweight or obese women who maintained that weight as an adult.”
While this may have ominous overtones for those girls who may be overweight the predominate feature of this report is that the potential effects of being overweight can be reversed, and the potential of diabetes limited, if the young girl and her guardians work to develop a plan for weight loss while the individual is still young.