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Short Adult Stature May Predict Diabetes Risk

Higher prevalence associated with shorter height, leg length and lower leg length-to-height ratio

THURSDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Short adult stature is associated with an increased risk of adiposity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the July issue of Diabetes Care.

Frederick L. Brancati, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues studied a nationally representative sample of 7,424 adults aged 40 to 74 years who were enrolled in the 1988-1994 Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found that shorter height and leg length, and lower leg length-to-height ratio, especially in women, were associated with a higher percentage of body fat, and that lower leg length-to-height ratio was associated with greater insulin resistance. After adjusting for other factors including percent body fat, they found that the relative prevalence of type 2 diabetes per 1-standard deviation lower values in height, leg length, and leg length-to-height ratio were 1.10, 1.17 and 1.19, respectively.

"Our study shows that adult stature can be helpful in predicting the risk of diabetes independently from other known risk factors," the authors conclude. "The biologic pathways underlying this association still require further research, specifically on nutritional and hormonal environments during childhood in combination with environments in utero. Interventions to improve prepubertal nutrition could represent novel means to combat the epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes."

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