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Fat Accumulation Key to Diabetes Risk

Fat accumulation in relation to body size influences a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study.

Researchers in the Netherlands studied the size at birth, adult body size, and sensitivity to the blood regulating hormone insulin in young adults. They found that a person’s fat mass in adulthood was the only factor significantly related to insulin sensitivity, which is a precursor of diabetes.

Previous studies have associated low birth rate with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and that acceleration in growth experienced by people who are born small but reach normal adult size has harmful effects on metabolism.

The research team looked at the insulin sensitivity of 136 young men and women, some of whom were either born small for gestational age and remained short as adults, born small but reached normal height in adulthood, of normal size during birth but grew up to be short adults, and of normal size both at birth and during adulthood.

At study end, results showed that those who were born small but caught up in height during adulthood had significantly lower insulin sensitivity as opposed to the control group. With the study results, researchers propose a “fat accumulation hypothesis” which says that “an increased accumulation of fat during childhood, independent of birth size, will result in insulin sensitivity.”

“Our data imply that all individuals, regardless of their size at birth, should try to achieve or maintain a normal fat mass for their body size,” study investigators conclude.

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