Lower BMI means lower diabetes risk, even in non-obese people

In a new study, researchers found that lower body mass index (BMI) is consistently linked to reduced type 2 diabetes risk, among people with varied family history, genetic risk factors, and weight.

The research was conducted by a team at Stanford University.

Weight-loss interventions have shown strong benefit for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in high-risk and pre-diabetic people but have not been well-studied in people at lower risk of diabetes.

In the new study, the researchers studied the association between BMI, diabetes family history and genetic risk factors affecting type 2 diabetes or BMI.

They used data on 287,394 people of British ancestry recruited to participate in the UK Biobank from 2006 to 2010 when between the ages of 40 and 69.

Nearly 5% of the participants had a diagnosis of type II diabetes and diabetes prevalence was confirmed to be linked to higher BMI, a family history of type II disease and genetic risk factors.

Moreover, a 1 kg/m2 BMI reduction was linked to a 1.37 fold reduction in type II diabetes among non-overweight individuals with a BMI of less than 25 and no family history of diabetes, similar to the effect of BMI reduction in obese individuals with a family history.

These findings suggest that all individuals may reduce their type 2 diabetes risk through weight loss.

But the team also cautions that the results must be taken with a grain of salt since they didn’t study actual weight-loss interventions.

Although the new analysis can determine that lower lifetime BMI is protective against diabetes, that does not necessarily imply weight loss later in life, after carrying excess weight for decades, would have the same result.

One author of the study is Manuel A. Rivas.

The study is published in PLOS Medicine.

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