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Obesity at Different Ages Can Determine Different Outcomes in Diabetes

Sep 15, 2020
 
Editor: Steve Freed, R.PH., CDE

Author: Sandra Zaki, PharmD Candidate, Florida A&M University

Age at onset of obesity and number of obese years are crucial factors in type 2 diabetes risk. 

Obesity is directly related to the development of type 2 diabetes. Much research has been focused on why people with obesity issues develop diabetes and the possible measures that can be taken to reduce the prevalence of diabetes. Previous reports have pointed out that when a person becomes overweight, the interiors of individual cells are stressed, and the result is insulin resistance, which is the first sure sign of diabetes. In this study by Juhua Luo et al., they focus their research on the age of obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes.   

 Factors such as the number of years with obesity are likely to affect the development of diabetes among people. This study, therefore, considers all elements that are linked to the development of diabetes. The aim is to determine the relationship between age in the onset of obesity and the development of diabetes. The study focuses on determining the BMI trajectories of individuals over early adulthood and their association with type 2 diabetes. The purpose of the study is to determine whether obesity experienced in young adulthood, coupled with duration of obesity, increases the probability of developing type 2 diabetes. 

The study was carried out among young Australian women and entailed a follow up of 19 years in their BMI trajectories. The results were that most women aged between 18 and 23 experienced an increase in BMI up to middle adulthood. However, the increase in BMI did not entirely imply that one is likely to develop diabetes. The BMI of young adults, however, was highly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. Contrary to what was expected, the study showed that experiencing obesity in older age may not lead to type 2 diabetes but experiencing obesity at a young age is a danger sign that one may develop diabetes in the future.   

Another significant observation from the cohort entailed obese years. The duration of obesity had a positive correlation to the development of type 2 diabetes. When an individual has had obesity for a very long time, it also translates to a higher probability of developing type 2 diabetes. That means that an earlier onset of obesity, coupled with a prolonged age of obesity, will definitely lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. In the study, obese years was not used to describe the length of time that a person has experienced obesity or the BMI values that a person has had, which made them be considered as having obesity. Obese years are taken to refer to the cumulative damage to a person’s body that has resulted from diabetes. It is assumed that prolonged obesity will lead to the damaging of vital functions in the body, which will ultimately lead to diabetes.   

The conclusion from the article is that young women are more likely to gain weight from their young years to adulthood. It is thus important that people considered monitoring their weights, since anyone who may experience a rapid increase in weight is more likely to become obese and even develop type 2 diabetes. The study emphasizes the need to delay the onset of obesity as a measure to reduce obese years and ultimately reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The most important aspects of preventing type 2 diabetes are, therefore, timing and the cumulative exposure to obesity.   

The implications of the study in the clinical operations are that it contributes to the intervention measures of dealing with diabetes. It provides insights on what needs to be considered when determining the effective measures of preventing type 2 diabetes, in its emphasis on timing as well as a person’s exposure to obesity as some of the main factors that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. With consideration of the two factors, it is possible that the risk of developing diabetes among populations can be lowered significantly.  

Practice Pearls:  

  • Obesity is directly related to the development of type 2 diabetes. 
  • Experiencing obesity in older age may not lead to type 2 diabetes. 
  • The study emphasizes timing as well as a person’s exposure to obesity as some of the main factors that contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.  

 

Luo, J., Hodge, A., Hendryx, M., & Byles, J. E. (2019). Age of obesity onset, cumulative obesity exposure over early adulthood and risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia. doi:10.1007/s00125-019-05058-7 

 

Sandra Zaki, PharmD Candidate, Florida A&M University 

 

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