Health Topics

Correcting overweight during childhood reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Children with childhood obesity have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) as adults. However, a study published in 2018 shows that it is possible to reduce this risk if the weight is normalized before puberty.

The importance of the study lies in the evidence that children that at seven years of age are overweight, but at 13 normalized their weight, have the same risk of developing diabetes than those that have always had a healthy weight. In contrast, children who are overweight in childhood and at the beginning of adulthood have a higher risk of having type 2 diabetes.

In this research, conducted in Denmark in 2018, the evolution of the body mass index (weight and height) was analyzed in children (at 7 and 13 years) and young adults (from 17 to 26 years). A total of 60,000 men were analyzed. The percentage of overweight at seven years was 5.4%, at 13 of 5.5% and from 17 to 26 of 8.2% of the total participants.

Another conclusion of the study is that, as other studies already demonstrated, there is a relationship between the presence of overweight and an increased risk of developing DM2, probably caused by the induction of insulin resistance. This relationship happens in both adults and children. Therefore, from a public health point of view, it is essential to avoid the appearance of overweight and obesity to reduce the risk of this disease.

Even so, until now, there was very little information on the effect that weight loss has on children who had already developed obesity. In this regard, the study provides valuable information, since it shows that this adverse effect is reversible. Thus, the increased risk of having DM2 in children with obesity is reversible if the weight is normalized before puberty.

This type of research highlights the importance of having an active lifestyle, already in childhood, to achieve a healthy weight in those cases where it is necessary. A healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet during all life contributes to reducing the future risk of developing a disease as complex as DM2.