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Moderate male weight gain increases diabetes risk
[Posted: Fri 07/10/2011 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
It is already well known that being overweight increases a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However a new study has found that men do not need to put on as much weight as women to develop the condition.
According to Scottish researchers, this partly explains why in many parts of the world, diabetes rates are higher among males.
Diabetes is a disorder caused by an insufficient or lack of production of the hormone, insulin, by the pancreas. Insulin is responsible for absorbing glucose into the bloodstream, a process necessary for normal growth and energy. With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas usually continues to produce some insulin, but for some reason, the body cannot use this insulin effectively.
"Previous research has indicated that middle-aged men are at a higher risk of developing diabetes than women and one possible explanation is that men have to gain less weight than women to develop the condition. In other words, men appear to be at higher risk for diabetes," explained lead researcher, Prof Naveed Sattar, of the University of Glasgow.
In order to test whether this theory was correct, the researchers, studied data on almost 52,000 men and over 43,000 women, all of whom had diabetes. They looked at the body mass indexes (BMI) of the participants which were recorded within one year of the diabetes diagnosis. They also looked at other factors, such as smoking rates and age.
BMI is a means of assessing whether your weight may be posing a risk to your health. It is calculated using a person's weight and height measurements. A BMI of over 25 is considered overweight while over 30 is considered obese. (To calculate your BMI, click here.)
The study found that the average BMI at which men developed diabetes was 31.8. However, in women, it was 33.6. This difference was most noticeable at younger ages. "The results from this research confirm our hypothesis that men have to gain less weight to develop diabetes," Prof Sattar explained.
The researchers say the reason for this may be down to how fat is distributed in the body. Men tend to carry more visceral or intra-abdominal fat, which is located deep under the muscle tissue in the abdomen and is considered a more dangerous type of fat. Women on the other hand tend to carry more ‘safe' subcutaneous fat. This type of fat lies just below the skin.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Diabetologia.
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