Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that the greater the amount of excess weight and the number of years a child or teen is overweight or obese significantly influences his or her risk for type 2 diabetes.
These findings come at a crucial time when one in five school-aged children in Utah are overweight or obese.
As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, the obesity health crisis in Utah has placed Utah children at a terrible risk of having a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
For more than a decade, researchers and doctors have been concerned that the rapidly increasing number of children and teens considered overweight or obese would promote a diabetes epidemic.
Obesity is a well-known risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease and other chronic health conditions that have the potential to shorten life expectancy.
A study published September 5, 2011 ahead of print in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine has found a convincing relationship between the amount and duration of excess weight a person carries and type 2 diabetes risk.
As part of the study, Joyce M. Lee, M.D., who focuses her research on the epidemiology of diabetes and obesity in children, and her colleagues examined the health records of 8,157 adolescents and young adults.
What researchers found was that the degree and duration of excess weight was a strong predicative factor for diabetes – more so than measurement of excess weight alone.
The research suggests that the younger an individual carries excess weight the greater the risk of developing diabetes. Hispanics and African-Americans had a greater risk than Caucasians.
Based on their findings, researchers concluded that a person with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 – five greater than what is considered obese – would be considered to have the cumulative equivalent exposure of 100 years of excess BMI.
For example, a white male aged 40 with 200 excess BMI-years would be almost 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than the same male with 100 excess BMI-years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years.
It is essential that public health interventions target children and adolescents to reverse the trend of obesity and diabetes in the United States.
A wealth of data is mounting to confirm that childhood nutrition plays a critical role in the development and prevention of chronic health conditions as an adult. Recent research suggests that children who consume a high-fiber, low-fat diet, with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains have a decreased risk of chronic diseases as an adult.