BACKGROUND: Obesity and increases in body weight in adults are considered to be among the most important risk factors for type 2 diabetes. OBJECTIVE: The objective was to evaluate and compare the associations between weight changes during 2 different periods of adult life and the risk of type 2 diabetes and age at diagnosis. DESIGN: The study included 7720 men and 10 371 women from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam Study with information on weight history; 390 men and 303 women of these participants received a clinical diagnosis of type 2 diabetes during 7 y of follow-up. Multivariate Cox regression models were used to estimate the relative risk (RR) of weight changes between ages 25 and 40 y and ages 40 and 55 y. RESULTS: RR estimates in men and women were slightly higher for each unit of BMI gain between ages 25 and 40 y [men: 1.25 (95% CI: 1.21, 1.30); women: 1.24 (1.20, 1.27)] than between ages 40 and 55 y [men: 1.13 (1.10, 1.16); women: 1.11 (1.08, 1.14)]. Severe weight gain between ages 25 and 40 y was associated with a higher diabetes risk in men (1.5 times) and in women (4.3 times) than were stable weight in early adulthood and weight gain in later life, and it resulted in an average lower age at diabetes diagnosis in men (5 y) and in women (3 y). CONCLUSION: Weight gain in early adulthood is related to a higher risk and earlier onset of type 2 diabetes than is weight gain between 40 and 55 y of age.
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