A study that tracked more than 109,000 women nurses over a 16-year period has found that overweight girls who lose weight before reaching adulthood lessen their risk of type 2 diabetes. The research, conducted by Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health, asked the women to recall their body weight at the ages of five, 10, and 20 years. The women were aided by the use of diagrams that depicted various body types, ranging from extreme thinness (Category 1) to obese (Category 9).
Among the results of the survey:
- Women who recalled being overweight at age five were twice as likely to later develop diabetes as women who recalled being normal weight at that age.
- Women who were overweight at age 18 were almost nine times more likely to develop diabetes than women who were normal weight at that age.
- Women who recalled being overweight at all three ages-five, 10 and 20-were 15 times more likely to develop type 2 in adulthood.
A woman who was not overweight in youth but became so in adulthood was eight times more likely to acquire type 2. However, women who were overweight at one stage of youth but later shed those pounds and entered adulthood at normal weight (as determined by body mass index) did not run a higher risk of diabetes than women who had been normal-weight children.
The researchers concluded that encouraging overweight girls to lose weight before reaching adulthood could dramatically lower their risk of diabetes.
More details on the study are available at NIH.
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