Study results confirm BMI is a direct cause of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure

March 4, 2014 by Katie Delach, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
BMI thresholds predict metabolic syndrome in teens

(Medical Xpress)—Using new genetic evidence, an international team of scientists led by experts at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has found that an increased body mass index (BMI) raised the risk for both type 2 diabetes and higher blood pressure. The results add to mounting evidence about the risks of obesity and are of major importance for the obesity pandemic that is affecting the United States – where two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese – and other countries.

According to the findings, published online in The American Journal of Human Genetics, for every 1 kg/m2 increase in BMI – equivalent to a 196-pound, 40-year old man of average height gaining seven pounds – the risk of developing increases by 27 percent. The same rise in BMI also increases blood pressure by 0.7 mmHg.

"Our findings provide solid genetic support indicating that a higher causes a raised risk of type 2 diabetes and ," said the study's lead author, Michael V. Holmes, MD, PhD, research assistant professor of Surgery in the division of Transplant at Penn Medicine.

In the new study, the research team used a recently developed statistical tool called Mendelian randomization (MR), which helps researchers identify genes responsible for particular diseases or conditions (such as obesity), independent of potentially confounding factors such as differences in behavior and lifestyle, which can lead to false-positive associations. In this case, the use of MR virtually rules out the possibility that both a high BMI and type 2 diabetes are caused by a third, unidentified factor.

"Whether high BMI raises the risk of adverse outcomes is of critical importance given that BMI is modifiable," said Holmes. "Now that we know high BMI is indeed a direct cause of type 2 diabetes, we can reinforce to patients the importance of maintaining body mass within established benchmarks."

Results of the new study were based on the assessment of the genotypes for over 34,500 patients from previous studies. In addition to the results on diabetes and , Holmes and his colleagues found that an elevated BMI has potentially harmful effects on several blood markers of inflammation. While this could be tied to increased risk for , the researchers suggest it requires further study.

Explore further: Morbidity higher in obese liver transplant recipients with diabetes, survival not impacted

More information: Michael V. Holmes, et al, "Causal Effects of Body Mass Index on Cardiometabolic Traits and Events: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis," The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 94, Issue 2, 6 February 2014, Pages 198-208, ISSN 0002-9297, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.12.014.

Related Stories

Morbidity higher in obese liver transplant recipients with diabetes, survival not impacted

January 23, 2014
Researchers from New Zealand report that morbidity following liver transplant is highest among obese patients with diabetes, but these risk factors do not influence post-transplant survival. According to the study published ...

Low BMI is a risk factor for CVD in hypertensive patients with diabetes

September 3, 2013
Low BMI is a risk factor for CVD in hypertensive patients with diabetes, according to research presented at the ESC Congress today by Dr Takanori Nagahiro from Japan. The findings provide evidence for an obesity paradox in ...

No evidence of survival advantage for type 2 diabetes patients who are overweight or obese

January 15, 2014
Being overweight or obese does not lead to improved survival among patients with type 2 diabetes. The large-scale study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers refutes previous studies that have suggested ...

Genetic factors conferring diabetes don't affect progression

January 17, 2014
(HealthDay)—Genetic variants that predispose to diabetes are not associated with the rate of progression from diabetes to requirement of insulin treatment, according to a study published online Nov. 1 in Diabetes Care.

Higher BMI increases risk of gallstones, especially in women

July 11, 2013
New research reveals a causal association between elevated body mass index (BMI) and increased risk of gallstone disease. Results published in Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, ...

Study challenges close link between recent weight gain, diabetes

February 11, 2014
It is a common notion that type 2 diabetes is precipitated by substantial progressive weight gain, but a study published this week in PLOS Medicine suggests that this might not be true.

Recommended for you

Researchers identify gene responsible for mesenchymal stem cells' stem-ness'

January 22, 2018
Many doctors, researchers and patients are eager to take advantage of the promise of stem cell therapies to heal damaged tissues and replace dysfunctional cells. Hundreds of ongoing clinical trials are currently delivering ...

Genes contribute to biological motion perception and its covariation with autistic traits

January 22, 2018
Humans can readily perceive and recognize the movements of a living creature, based solely on a few point-lights tracking the motion of the major joints. Such exquisite sensitivity to biological motion (BM) signals is essential ...

Peers' genes may help friends stay in school, new study finds

January 18, 2018
While there's scientific evidence to suggest that your genes have something to do with how far you'll go in school, new research by a team from Stanford and elsewhere says the DNA of your classmates also plays a role.

Two new breast cancer genes emerge from Lynch syndrome gene study

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian have identified two new breast cancer genes. Having one of the genes—MSH6 and PMS2—approximately doubles a woman's risk of developing breast ...

A centuries-old math equation used to solve a modern-day genetics challenge

January 18, 2018
Researchers developed a new mathematical tool to validate and improve methods used by medical professionals to interpret results from clinical genetic tests. The work was published this month in Genetics in Medicine.

Can mice really mirror humans when it comes to cancer?

January 18, 2018
A new Michigan State University study is helping to answer a pressing question among scientists of just how close mice are to people when it comes to researching cancer.

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.