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Young Adults Have a Higher Risk for Diabetes

Increased risk due to level of duration and degree of weight gain

Researcher Gina S. Wei, MD, MPH, of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and her colleagues examined data from three cohort studies to determine whether duration and degree of weight gain is related to diabetes risk in younger vs. middle-aged black and white adults.

In this study, subjects were divided initially by age into younger (30 and < 45 years of age) and middle-aged (45 and < 60 years of age) cohorts. The duration and degree of BMI for subjects was calculated as BMI-years above baseline, and a follow-up was performed for an average of nine years.

Once data was analyzed, it was found that 1,509 new cases of diabetes were recorded among all participants. Incidence per 100,000 person-years was 7.2 in younger black subjects, 24.4 in middle-aged black subjects, and 3.4 in younger white subjects and 10.5 in middle-aged white subjects.

BMI was determined as net gain in BMI-years (area 1), net loss in BMI years (area -1) or no change in BMI-years (area between -1 and 1). Net gain of at least one BMI-year occurred in 72% of younger black participants (HR = 1.18), 60% of middle-aged black participants (HR = 1.02), 76% of younger white participants (HR = 1.35), and 67% of middle-aged white participants (HR = 1.11). For the follow-up period, the average BMI-years gain was greater in the younger group compared with the middle-aged groups.

Authors concluded that young adults gaining weight may be more likely to be associated with developing diabetes than their middle-aged counterpart with similar weight profiles.

Practice Pearls:

  • Findings support continued efforts to prevent weight gain in both younger and middle-aged adults.
  • Younger adults are at a higher risk for developing diabetes compared to older adults with similar weight profiles.
  • Even though older adults have higher rates of diabetes, younger adults are at greater relative risk due to level of duration and degree of weight gain.

Wei, Gina S., et al. “Duration and Degree of Weight Gain and Incident Diabetes in Younger Versus Middle-Aged Black and White Adults: ARIC, CARDIA, and the Framingham Heart Study.” Diabetes Care (2015): dc142770.