Shorter people at greater risk of type II diabetes
Shorter people are at greater risk of developing diabetes, new research has found.
Scientists behind a study of more than 2,500 people in Germany found that the risk of diabetes was lower by more than 30 per cent for each three inch (10 cm) difference in height.
The results may be because greater height is associated with lower liver fat content and other diabetic risk factors, like blood lipids, said Matthias Schulze, an author on the study.
Researchers looked at more than 2,500 middle-aged men and women in Germany from a pool of about 26,000 people. After adjusting for age, lifestyle, education and waist circumference, researchers found that greater height was associated with a lower risk for type II diabetes.
The results of their study were published yesterday in the journal Diabetologia.
The team evaluated height by taking into account both sitting height and leg length. The heights ranged from under 5'6" (169.7 cm) to above 5'11" (180.3 cm) for men and under 5'2" (157.8 cm) to above 5'6" (168.1 cm) for women.
It found that, for both men and women, the risk of diabetes was lower by more than 30 per cent for each three inch (10 cm) difference in height.
Part of the association between greater height and a lower risk for diabetes may come from the associations between greater height and lower liver fat content and other diabetic risk factors, like blood lipids, Professor Schulze said.
The study argues that shorter people should be monitored for diabetes and risk factors related to cardiovascular disease. Because liver fat contributes so much to the higher risk in shorter individuals, reducing liver fat may provide a way to reduce the risk of diabetes.
Gail Melkus, associate dean for research in New York University's Rory Meyers College of Nursing, called the study "a piece of the pie" in researching diabetes. She is unaffiliated with the study.
"I think that the conclusions have to be cautiously interpreted because it's a secondary data analysis, meaning they didn't get a group of people and follow them going forward," she told CNN.
She said the study poses an interesting question: Should short stature be another risk factor for screening for type 2 diabetes, along with family history or obesity? More research needs to be done to determine the answer.
Still, she said short people shouldn't automatically think they're destined for diabetes, nor should tall people think they're safe and sound, especially with other risk factors that apply to them.
"It's not just one risk factor that we need to consider when screening people for any health condition," she said.
What is Type II diabetes?
Type II diabetes is common in Australia, accounting for 85 per cent of 1.7 million registered cases, according to Diabetes Australia.
How diabetes works
Everybody produces insulin, a hormone made by in the pancreas that allows blood sugar into our cells to use as energy.
But when your body produces too much insulin cells may stop responding and become insulin resistant. That leaves too much sugar in the blood, leading to high blood sugar and type II diabetes.
Type I diabetes is a completely different problem. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which sufferers don't make enough insulin and have to take supplementally to survive.
The typical prevention methods for type II diabetes are increased physical activity -- which helps make our bodies more sensitive to insulin -- and weight loss. Avoiding high blood sugar and reducing stress help too.
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