In a new study, researchers found that metabolic health and weight management are the keys to minimizing diabetes risk in older women.
As women age and transition through menopause, the prevalence of diabetes increases.
More specifically, postmenopausal women who have increased abdominal fat are at risk for type 2 diabetes because of the development of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.
Recent studies have suggested that even women of normal weight may be at increased risk of diabetes if they are metabolically unhealthy.
Metabolic health is based on the combined levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, as well as blood pressure and waist circumference.
In the study, the team used data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and found that being metabolically unhealthy increases diabetes risk, even in women of normal weight.
They sought to determine the relationship between various metabolic weight categories and diabetes risk in postmenopausal women.
They found that metabolically unhealthy women of normal weight, as well as metabolically healthy women who are overweight, had about a two-fold increased risk for developing diabetes.
This confirmed that even women of normal weight could be at risk of diabetes, depending on their metabolic health.
In comparison, women who were metabolically unhealthy and overweight were four times more likely to develop the disease.
The team says this study provides evidence that being of normal weight yet metabolically unhealthy is associated with increased risk for diabetes.
Educating women about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and controlling cardiometabolic risk factors for diabetes and heart disease is important.
One author of the study is Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.
The study is published in Menopause.
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