Overweight young people can avoid diabetes risk if they lose weight early enough, says new research

January 5, 2016

Obese young people can still turn their chances of developing life threatening illness around if they change before middle age, says new research.

The study looked at the (BMI) of people when they were young and compared it to when they were middle aged to see whether it affected their risk of , stroke or .

Men who had high BMI levels at 21, but had lowered their BMI by the time they were 50, had similar or lower rates of diabetes as people who were normal weight when younger, the results showed.

In a unique approach, the study used the records of men's military service, which recorded their BMI at 21, as well as participant recall and followed up with them 30 years later.

Lead research Professor Christopher Owen from St George's University of London said the effects of high BMI early in life may be reversible.

"Even in men who carried out UK National Service and were relatively thin in early life compared to more recent men, higher levels of fatness in early adult life appear to be associated with later diabetes," he said.

"However, effects of early appear to be reversible by subsequent weight loss. These findings have important implications for Type 2 , especially in more recent adults with high levels of obesity."

But the study, which examined almost 5000 men, found that a higher BMI earlier in life did not impact on the risk of heart attack or stroke.

However, who were obese when they were 50 had increased chances of suffering a heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

Obesity is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes and over 4 million people in the UK are at high risk of developing the condition.

Explore further: Men develop diabetes at lower BMIs than women

More information: Christopher G Owen et al. Body mass index in early and middle adult life: prospective associations with myocardial infarction, stroke and diabetes over a 30-year period: the British Regional Heart Study, BMJ Open (2015). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008105

Related Stories

Men develop diabetes at lower BMIs than women

October 3, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Men develop type 2 diabetes at a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than women, according to new research by clinical academics at the University of Glasgow.

Obesity in early 20s curbs chances of reaching middle age

April 29, 2013

Young men who are obese in their early 20s are significantly more likely to develop serious ill health by the time they reach middle age, or not even make it that far, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ ...

Recommended for you

Five diet drugs: which ones work?

June 14, 2016

(HealthDay)—Any of the prescription weight-loss drugs on the market can help obese people shed pounds, although some seem more effective than others, a new study finds.

A metabolic master switch underlying human obesity

August 19, 2015

Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century. Affecting more than 500 million people worldwide, obesity costs at least $200 billion each year in the United States alone, and contributes to potentially ...

Scientists probe obesity's ties to breast cancer risk

August 20, 2015

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for breast cancer, but researchers haven't figured out what connects the two. A new study suggests the link may be due to a change in breast tissue structure, which might promote breast ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.