Jama logoPreviously we reported that abdominal obesity often defined by a large waistline is known to be linked with depression. Experts from the University of Washington revealed that for individuals 65 years and older, obesity and excess fat around the waist particularly after the age of 50 are associated with greater chances of being affected with diabetes.

Experts examined the link between measures of overall body fat, fat distribution, alterations in these measures and diabetes risk. This study was conducted on 4,193 men and women aged 65 years and older. When participants entered the study and repeated three years later, various measures of adiposity were examined. The occurrence of diabetes was seemingly confirmed based on the use of anti-diabetic medication or a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL or more.

The author’s share, “Incidence of diabetes in the United States has doubled in the past 15 years, and is highest among adults 65 to 79 years of age. Approximately 70 percent of U.S. men and women 60 years of age and older are overweight or obese (BMI – body mass index 25 or greater). Adiposity (body fat) is a well-recognized risk factor for type 2 diabetes among young and middle-aged adults, however, the relationships between different measures of body composition and diabetes in older adults (65 years of age or older) are not well described”.

During the follow-up midpoint 12.4 years, experts observed 339 new cases of diabetes among the participants. They found that many factors were related to diabetes which included BMI at 50 years of age, weight, fat mass, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, and waist-height ratio.

Authors elucidate, “For each measure, there was a graded increase in the risk of diabetes with increasing quintiles of adiposity. Participants in the highest category of adiposity had an approximately 2- to 6-fold increased risk of developing diabetes compared with those in the lowest category. We found no evidence of significant statistical interaction by sex or race”.

Participants who gained 20 lbs or more between the age of 50 and study entry were inclined to get affected with diabetes during follow-up regardless of their BMI at 50 years of age. They was further compared with participants whose weight remained stable. Experts observed that people who were obese at the age of 50 and study entry had increased their risk by 5 times as compared to those with stable weight and normal BMI at the age of 50.

Scientists further observed that participants with both greater BMI and waist circumference had 4 times more risk compared to the lowest category of both these measures. Participants with 4 inch increase in waist size from baseline to third follow-up had increased their risk of diabetes by 70 percent as compared to those who gained or lost 0.8 inches or less.

Findings highlight the significance of maintaining optimal weight during middle age in order to abstain from diabetes. Experts suggest that weight control is essential to lower diabetes risk specifically among adults 65 years of age and older.

This article is according to a study in the June 23/30 issue of JAMA.