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Obesity and T2DM

Obesity linked to a six-fold increased risk of T2DM

Unfavourable lifestyle was associated with a 20% increased risk of developing T2DM compared with favourable lifestyle

Obesity is linked to a nearly 6-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), with high genetic risk and unfavourable lifestyle also increasing risk but to a much lesser extent, according to research presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona, Spain by Hermina Jakupovic, University of Copenhagen, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.

The researchers applied statistical modelling to a case-cohort sample of 9,556 men and women from the Danish prospective Diet, Cancer and Health cohort (49.6% women, 50.4% men, mean age 56.1 (range 50-65)). Almost half (49.5%) of the participants developed T2DM during an average 14.7 years of follow-up. A favourable lifestyle was defined as having at least three of the following healthy lifestyle factors: no current smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet.

An unfavourable lifestyle was defined as zero or only one healthy lifestyle factor while the remaining participants were defined as having an intermediate lifestyle. Genetic risk was assessed by a genetic risk score (GRS) comprising 193 genetic variants known to be strongly associated with T2DM. The GRS was stratified into low (lowest 20%), intermediate (middle 60%) and high risk (top 20%) groups.

The researchers found that having an unfavourable lifestyle and obesity are associated with a greater risk of developing T2DM regardless of their genetic risk. Obesity increased T2D-risk by 5.8-fold compared to individuals with normal weight. The independent effects of high (vs. low) genetic risk and unfavourable (vs. favourable) lifestyle were relatively modest by comparison, with the highest genetic risk group having a two-fold increased risk of developing T2DM compared with the lowest group; and unfavourable lifestyle was associated with a 20% increased risk of developing T2D compared with favourable lifestyle.

"The effect of obesity on type 2 diabetes risk is dominant over other risk factors,” the authors concluded. “Highlighting the importance of weight management in type 2 diabetes prevention." 

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