Boys Who Gain Weight During Puberty More Likely to Eventually Develop Diabetes

Boys who put on a significant amount of weight during puberty have an increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood, according to recent research.

The study included data on 36,176 men obtained from the BMI Epidemiology Study (BEST) and the Conscription register. Height and weight were recorded at 8 years old (childhood) and 20 years old (young adulthood). A total of 1,777 patients developed type 2 diabetes.

Among the total patients, 6.2% were overweight during childhood and 7.4% were overweight in young adulthood. More than half—about 58%—of the patients who were overweight during childhood attained a normal weight by age 20, while 64% who were overweight at age 20 were of normal weight during childhood. Researchers divided the follow-up time into early (≤55.7 years) and late (>55.7 years).

High body mass index (BMI) during childhood and a high BMI increase during puberty were both type 2 diabetes predictors, the researchers found. Those who were overweight during childhood but maintained a healthy weight during puberty were not significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (early type 2 diabetes 1.28; late type 2 diabetes 1.35). Men who gained substantial weight during puberty were more than four times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes before age 55.7 years (4.67) and more than twice as likely to develop it later (2.85); men who were overweight during childhood and young adulthood had similar risk ratios (early 4.82; late 3.04).

The study illustrates an association but not an explanation, according to study author Jenny Kindblom, MD, PhD, of the University of Gothenburg.

“We don’t know what the mechanisms behind this association are,” Kindblom told Reuters.

The researchers wrote, “BMI change during puberty is an important, and childhood BMI a modest, independent determinant of adult type 2 diabetes risk in men.”

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Sources: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Reuters