European Congress on Obesity
European Congress on Obesity
May 03, 2019
2 min read

Maintaining high BMI into adulthood increases type 2 diabetes risk

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Adults who develop obesity after having elevated childhood BMI are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes compared with those who avoid obesity regardless of childhood BMI status, according to findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity.

Lise G. Bjerregaard

“Too many children today suffer from overweight and obesity and, thus, are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on,” Lise G. Bjerregaard, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Clinical Research and Prevention at Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, told Endocrine Today. “Weight-loss interventions in adults convincingly delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals, but little is known about whether or not remission of overweight before adulthood can reduce the risks of type 2 diabetes later in life.”

Bjerregaard and colleagues used 10 cohorts, including the Copenhagen School Health Records Register, the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 and the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, to collect data on BMI at ages 7 and 12 years and in adulthood from 25,291 participants. High childhood BMI was defined by a BMI measure in the 85th percentile or higher, and adulthood obesity was defined as having a BMI of at least 30 kg/m2.

According to the researchers, the risk for type 2 diabetes in adulthood was higher for women who had high childhood BMI at age 7 years and later developed obesity compared with those who did not have high childhood BMI and did not develop obesity as an adult (HR = 5.23; 95% CI, 4.29-6.38). The same risk differential was found in men (HR = 3.79; 95% CI, 2.7-5.33). In addition, type 2 diabetes risk was not elevated for either women (HR = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.53-1.11) or men (HR = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.66-1.35) who had high childhood BMI but did not develop obesity in adulthood.

“I was surprised that the results were so robust. We found similar results when we accounted for the increased risk of type 2 diabetes associated with smoking, low levels of physical activity and short education. This means that the effect of these factors did not explain the increased risk associated with adult obesity,” Bjerregaard said. “Our results suggest that helping children with overweight to normalize their weight status prior to adulthood may reduce the subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes in adulthood.” – by Phil Neuffer



Bjerregaard LG, et al. Does educational attainment and lifestyle factors influence the association between change in BMI from childhood to adulthood and type 2 diabetes? A meta-analysis of Danish and Finnish cohorts. Presented at: European Congress on Obesity; April 28-May 1, 2019; Glasgow, Scotland.

Disclosure: Bjerregaard reports the study received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program as part of the DynaHEALTH project.