Being underweight may place men and women over age 60 at increased risk for developing diabetes, Japanese researchers report.
"Older people who are underweight may need to take care of their poor nutrition status," Dr Toshimi Sairenchi noted in comments to Reuters Health.
To examine the association between underweight and diabetes risk, Sairenchi and colleagues collected information in 1993 from 39,201 men and 88,012 women who were between 40 and 79 years old and who did not have diabetes. They followed the men and women for an average of 5.3 years.
The results suggest that being underweight is associated with about 30 percent excess risk of diabetes, reported Sairenchi, of Dokkyo Medical University in Tochigi, Japan.
Annual checkups for diabetes during follow up resulted in a diagnosis of diabetes for 3,863 men and 4,584 women.
Sixty to 79 year olds who were underweight - defined as a body mass index below 18.5 - had an excess risk for diabetes compared with those of optimal weight (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9).
Excess risk was 32 percent in men and 31 percent in women, after adjusting for other factors that affect diabetes risk such as age, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking status, and alcohol intake. Underweight men and women aged 40 to 59 years old were not at increased risk for diabetes.
These findings highlight the health benefits of maintaining optimal weight, but additional research should further investigate the mechanisms behind these associations, Sairenchi and colleagues conclude. – (Joene Hendry/Reuters Health)
SOURCE: Diabetes Care, March 2008