Shorter people are at higher risk of type-2 diabetes: Study

Height could predict the risk for diabetes, as a short stature is associated with a higher risk of type-2 diabetes,with each 10cm difference in height corresponding to a 41 percent decreased risk of diabetes in men and a 33 percent decreased risk in women. The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) postulates that the increased risk in shorter individuals may be due to higher liver fat content and a less-than-desirable profile of cardiometabolic risk factors.

The study used data on some 27,540 people from Potsdam, Germany between 1994 and 1998, from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), including physical parameters such as body weight, total body height and sitting height (with leg length calculated as the difference between the two), waist circumference and blood pressure, report agencies.

From this, the height-diabetes risk relationship appeared to be stronger among normal-weight individuals, with an 86 percent lower risk per 10cm larger height in men, and 67 percent lower risk per 10cm larger height in women. In overweight/obese individuals, each 10cm larger height was associated with diabetes risk being 36 percent lower for men and 30 percent lower for women. This indicates that a higher diabetes risk with larger waist circumference counteracts beneficial effects related to height, irrespective of how the larger waist circumference came to be.

As larger leg length was associated with a lower risk of diabetes, study’s authors suggest that, among boys, growth before puberty, which relates more strongly to leg length, will have a more favourable impact on later diabetes risk than growth during puberty. As for girls, both growth periods seem to be important, and contribute to a lower diabetes risk.

In addition, when the results were adjusted for liver fat content, the men’s reduced risk of diabetes per 10cm larger height was 34 percent compared to the overall 40 percent, and the women’s reduced risk was just 13 percent compared with 33 percent in the overall results.

Short people might present with higher cardiometabolic risk factor levels and have higher diabetes risk compared their taller friends. The study’s authors, including Professor Matthias Schulze, of the German Institute of Human Nutrition, thus advise early interventions to reduce height-related metabolic risk throughout life.