A new review of evidence suggests that children and teens losing weight before adulthood can reduce the elevated risks for type 2 diabetes to which they are exposed.
These findings originate from a Danish population-based study which has found that children who normalised their weight by adulthood did not have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to those stuck at the same weight.
The researchers from Frederiksberg Hospital, in Glostrup, who conducted the study presented their results at the last 77th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
They extrapolated data from 62,565 subjects, comprised of only men born from 1939 to 1959 and who were followed for over 30 years. Over the course of this study, about 6,710 participants were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
About 60 per cent of the boys initially overweight in childhood were able to achieve normal weight at around the age of 13. Those who kept gaining weight past that age had a long-term three-fold higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
“Our results suggest that the risk of type 2 diabetes may be reversible, and they highlight the need for normalising weight among children who are overweight,” Lise Bjerregaard, the study’s first author, told the ADA.
It is important to note that only a sizable portion (about 5.4 per cent) of the study population was classified as overweight, which may not represent the gravity of the situation in consideration of today’s much higher rates of childhood obesity.
The findings also revealed that the risks for type 2 diabetes varied relative to the participants’ baseline body weight.
When researchers performed further analyses and divided them into groups based on their Body Mass Index (BMI), they found that the higher the BMI, the greater was their risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
These findings suggest that there is a lot of value in staying at a healthy weight during childhood to limit risks of type 2 diabetes and perhaps even cardiovascular disease, which will be Bjerregaard’s next research focus.

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