Getting kids to a good weight by 13 may help avoid diabetes

April 4, 2018 by Marilynn Marchione
Getting kids to a good weight by 13 may help avoid diabetes
This Tuesday, April 3, 2018 photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York. New research released on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 suggests there's a critical window for overweight kids to get to a healthy level. Those who shed their extra pounds by age 13 had the same risk of developing diabetes in adulthood as others who had never weighed too much, a large study of Danish men found. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

There may be a critical window for overweight kids to get to a healthy level. Those who shed their extra pounds by age 13 had the same risk of developing diabetes in adulthood as others who had never weighed too much, a large study of Danish men found.

Diabetes can develop when the body can't properly use insulin to turn food into energy. Being overweight at any age raises the chances of the most common form, Type 2. But it's not known whether or how much that risk is reduced if people lose weight, and when.

"This study seems to suggest that overweight in adolescence is particularly harmful" and that reversing it by then can do a lot of good, said Dr. Stephen Daniels, pediatrics chief at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.

He had no role in the study, which was led by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, sponsored by the European Union, and published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

It involved 62,565 men in Denmark, where mandatory school and military service exams enabled tracking their health for decades. Heights and weights were measured when they were 7, 13, and between 17 and 26. National health records were used to see how many developed diabetes in .

Men who were overweight at age 7 but weren't by age 13 had similar odds of diabetes later in life as men who'd never been overweight.

Those who were overweight only at 13, or only at 7 and 13, had a lower risk than those who stayed overweight throughout but a higher risk than men who'd never been overweight.

"They are hopeful results" that show there are benefits if parents can help chubby kids "grow into a healthy weight," said Steven Gortmaker, a childhood obesity researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. "If you can slow the rise of obesity in very young children you have a chance of really preventing future cases of diabetes."

Why might the teen years matter so much?

"At adolescence you become more insulin resistant, just sort of a natural part of puberty," Daniels explained.

The muscles and organs don't use insulin as well after then, so it takes more to get the same job done, he said.

The study had many limitations—it was only in men, and there was no information on what they weighed in adulthood, when the developed.

It was a different time and place—decades ago in Denmark, only 5 percent to 8 percent of these men had been overweight as children or teens. Today in the United States, about 35 percent of kids are, and more than 23 percent are worldwide.

Explore further: Overweight boys at greater risk of colon cancer as adults, but losing weight may modify risk

Related Stories

Overweight boys at greater risk of colon cancer as adults, but losing weight may modify risk

May 20, 2017
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal (17-20 May) suggests that overweight boys may be at greater risk of colon (bowel) cancer when they grow up than their slimmer friends. ...

Overweight kids don't have to be overweight adults

December 20, 2017
(HealthDay)—Overweight children often become obese adults, with attendant problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Some great ways to fight childhood obesity

March 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—Childhood obesity is a problem that often follows kids into adulthood, exposing them to serious health threats later in life.

Diabetes, obesity behind 800,000 cancers worldwide: study

November 28, 2017
Nearly six percent of new cancers diagnosed worldwide in 2012—some 800,000 cases—were caused by diabetes and excess weight, according to a study published Tuesday.

Being overweight linked to longer life in older diabetics

June 9, 2017
Among older patients with diabetes, those who are overweight or obese may have a lower risk of dying prematurely than their normal weight counterparts. The finding comes from a recent analysis of published studies.

Recommended for you

Obesity linked to increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancer

October 12, 2018
Women who are overweight or obese have up to twice the risk of developing colorectal cancer before age 50 as women who have what is considered a normal body mass index (BMI), according to new research led by Washington University ...

The metabolome: A way to measure obesity and health beyond BMI

October 11, 2018
The link between obesity and health problems may seem apparent. People who are obese are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and heart disease. But increasingly, researchers are learning that the connection ...

Being overweight or obese in your 20s will take years off your life, according to a new report

October 10, 2018
Young adults classified as obese in Australia can expect to lose up to 10 years in life expectancy, according to a major new study.New modelling from The George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney also ...

Asthma may contribute to childhood obesity epidemic

October 9, 2018
Toddlers with asthma are more likely to become obese children, according to an international study led by USC scientists.

'Genes are not destiny' when it comes to weight

October 9, 2018
A healthy home environment could help offset children's genetic susceptibilities to obesity, according to new research led by UCL.

What did americans eat today? A third would say fast food

October 3, 2018
(HealthDay)—Americans' love affair with fast food continues, with 1 in every 3 adults chowing down on the fare on any given day.

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.