Obese people are almost six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people of a normal weight, new research has found.
According to the findings, genes and an unhealthy lifestyle also increase the risk, but not to the same extent as obesity.
Genetic predisposition, obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle and are all known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Danish researchers set out to investigate whether the genetic risk for type 2 diabetes is increased by obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle.
They looked at almost 10,000 men and women with an average age of 56. The participants were followed up for an average of just over 14 years and during this time, almost half developed type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found that an unhealthy lifestyle and obesity were linked with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes regardless of genetic risk.
However, obesity was found to carry the greatest risk. Obese people had a 5.8-fold increased risk of developing the condition compared to those of a normal weight.
Those at high genetic risk had a two-fold increased risk of developing the condition, compared to those with the lowest genetic risk, while those with an unhealthy lifestyle had a 20% increased risk compared to those with a healthy lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle was defined as maintaining at least three of the following lifestyle factors - no current smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
"The effect of obesity on type 2 diabetes risk is dominant over other risk factors, highlighting the importance of weight management in type 2 diabetes prevention," the researchers from the University of Copenhagen concluded.
Details of their findings were presented at the recent Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona, Spain.
*Picture courtesy of the World Obesity Federation
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