The rate of weight gain from childhood to adulthood could impact type 2 diabetes risk differently to having high body mass index (BMI) throughout life, research suggests.
More and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and efforts are being made to combat this trend. The government has made a series of proposals to challenge childhood obesity – which significantly increases the risk of type 2 – and cutting down on sugar and junk food has shown to be essential for physical and mental health.
In this study, UK scientists report that increasing body mass index (BMI) from the age of 10 years was associated with a higher type 2 diabetes risk compared to those who were overweight in childhood as well as adulthood.
Lead author Dr Jessica Tyrrell, from the University of Exeter, explained: “These findings suggest that individuals who remain in the higher BMI range throughout life may adapt to excess weight in ways that lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in comparison to individuals of similar adult BMI that have increased from lower to higher BMI since childhood.”
The researchers used data from nearly 372,000 people. They said that weight gain in children who had a normal BMI aged 10 were 53% more likely to develop the condition, compared to young people who had been overweight in childhood as well as adulthood. These findings were independent of an individual’s birth weight and current BMI.
Obese adults who had been thin as children had a slightly lower average BMI than those who were obese aged 10.
According to an audit, compiled by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the number of under-25s who now have type 2 diabetes has increased by 40% in just three years.
It is important to state that while eating healthily and getting exercise is as important for children as adults in avoiding type 2 diabetes, weight is not the only risk factor. Genetics, age, sex, ethnic differences, stress and body fat distribution can all influence type 2 diabetes risk.
The findings were unveiled on the first day of this year’s European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) conference in Berli, Germany.

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