Being short is associated with a significantly higher risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes). The study finds that each 10cm difference in height associated with a 41 per cent decreased risk of diabetes in men and a 33 per cent decreased risk in women.
The increased risk in shorter individuals may be due to higher liver fat content and a less favourable profile of cardiometabolic risk factors, say the study.
Short stature has been linked to higher risk of diabetes in several studies, suggesting that height could be used to predict the risk for the condition. It has been reported that insulin sensitivity and beta cell function are better in taller people. Short stature is related to higher cardiovascular risk, a risk that might in part be mediated by cardiometabolic risk factors relevant to type 2 diabetes, for example blood pressure, blood fats and inflammation.
This new study used data from 27,548 participants – 16, 644 women aged between 35 and 65 years and 10,904 men aged between 40 and 65 years – recruited from the general population of Potsdam, Germany.
A variety of physical data were collected from participants, including body weight, total body height and sitting height (with leg length calculated as the difference between the two), waist circumference and blood pressure.
The association of height with diabetes risk appeared to be stronger among normal-weight individuals, with an 86 per cent lower risk per 10cm larger height in men, and 67 per cent lower risk per 10cm larger height in women.
The authors say: “Our findings suggest that short people might present with higher cardiometabolic risk factor levels and have higher diabetes risk compared with tall people. These observations corroborate that height is a useful predictive marker for diabetes risk and suggest that monitoring of cardiometabolic risk factors may be more frequently indicated among shorter persons, independent of their body size and composition”