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Getting a Leg Up: Controlling Weight Early Pays Off

Obesity and weight gain before diagnosis of diabetes are associated with future risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) among women with type 2 diabetes, say Harvard researchers.

A total of 5,897 women with type 2 were followed for 20 years. No history of cardiovascular disease or cancer was documented at the beginning of the follow-up period. Body mass index (BMI) values from three time points (age 18, the year 1976, and current) were taken. Weight changes between age 18 and 1976 and after diagnosis of diabetes were calculated.

During follow-up, researchers documented 418 incident cases of CHD (236 nonfatal heart attacks, 182 fatal heart attacks). After adjustment for age, smoking, and other coronary risk factors, current BMI was strongly associated with increased risk of CHD among women with diabetes.

Increasing BMI values from age 18 to 1976, before diagnosis of diabetes, were also positively associated with risk of CHD. Weight gain before the diagnosis of diabetes was related to increased risk of CHD. In contrast, weight change after diagnosis of diabetes was not associated with risk of CHD.

-Diabetes Care, July 2002

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