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Obese individuals may be 6 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes

/ 11:21 PM April 19, 2020
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Image: iStock/Tsuji via AFP

New European research has found that individuals who are obese could have a six times higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even if they don’t have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

Carried out by researchers at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, the new study looked 4,729 individuals with an average age of 56.1 who were taking part in another study, the Diet, Cancer and Health cohort in Denmark, and compared them to a randomly selected cohort sample of 5,402 individuals who acted as a control.

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Data gathered from the study allowed the researchers to assess the possible links between the participants’ genetic disposition to type 2 diabetes, their obesity level and their lifestyle habits (including smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity and diet), and how this might affect their risk of developing the condition.

The findings, published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, showed that the overweight participants had a 2.4 times increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who had a normal weight. Moreover, the obese participants, which is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30, were almost six times more likely to develop the condition.

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When the researchers looked at the effect of genetic predisposition to the disease, they found that those with the highest genetic risk were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as those with the lowest. Participants with the unhealthiest lifestyle were 18 percent more likely to develop the disease than those with the healthiest.

The participants who had all three risk factors (a strong genetic risk, the unhealthiest lifestyle and obesity) had a 14.5 times increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with individuals who had a normal body weight, a low genetic risk and a healthy lifestyle.

The researchers also note, that even among those with a low genetic risk and healthy lifestyle, obesity was still linked with 8.4 times increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared with normal-weight individuals with the same genetic risk and lifestyle.

“The results suggest that type 2 diabetes prevention by weight management and healthy lifestyle is critical across all genetic risk groups,” said the researchers. “Furthermore, we found that the effect of obesity on type 2 diabetes risk is dominant over other risk factors, highlighting the importance of weight management in type 2 diabetes prevention.” JB

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TOPICS: Diabetes, Genetics, obesity, type 2 diabetes, weight
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