Genes have long been blamed for increased diabetes risk. But according to a new study, a person with obesity is nearly six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes over a decade when compared with a person of normal weight, independent of lifestyle factors and genetic risk for the disease. According to study data presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting, researchers defined a favorable lifestyle as having at least three of the following healthy lifestyle factors: no current smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, regular physical activity and a healthy diet.
The research team led by Hermina Jakupovic, PhD, a fellow at the Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, mentioned how the effect of obesity on type 2 diabetes risk is dominant over other risk factors, highlighting the importance of weight management in type 2 diabetes prevention.
An unfavorable lifestyle was defined as no or only one healthy lifestyle factor; the remaining participants were considered to have an intermediate lifestyle. Genetic risk was assessed by a risk score comprising 213 genetic loci associated with type 2 diabetes. Researchers divided participants by level of genetic risk score (lowest 25 per cent, middle 50 per cent and top 25 per cent).
In a case-control study, Jakupovic and colleagues analysed data from 9,556 adults using data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort (49.6 per cent women; mean age, 56 years; 43 per cent with overweight; 22.8 per cent with obesity). During 14.7 years of follow-up, 49.5 per cent of participants developed type 2 diabetes.
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