A recent study from Germany has found that taller people are at reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by 41% in males for every 10 cm increase in height. In females, the risk decreases by 33% for the same increase in height.
The findings are published in the Journal Diabetologia.
Researchers suggest that this is due to less fat accumulation in the liver. Another reason is the favorable metabolic risk factors such as adiponectin, blood fats, and C-reactive proteins.
The risk of type 2 diabetes also decreases among overweight and obese individuals. In males, an increase of 10 cm in height decreases the risk by 36%. While in females, the same increase in height decreases the risk by 30%.
The link between short stature and type 2 diabetes
The researchers collected the data of 27,548 individuals enrolled in EPIC study in Germany during 1994-1998. Among all participants, there were 16,644 females with age between 35-36 years. Rests of the participants were males with age between 40-65 years.
The researchers randomly selected a representative sample of 10% of the cohort.
Their findings followed the past studies and suggested that short stature is linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The previous studies also found a link between short stature and cardiovascular diseases.
It was also suggested that taller individuals have more insulin sensitivity and better working beta cells.
However, the recent study observed the two components of height: sitting height and leg length.
Researchers found a strong association between longer leg length and decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, in females, they found that both components affect the disease risk.
The findings suggest that growth before puberty is more significant in determining to reduce the risk of diabetes in males. The reason is, in males, leg bones stop growing even before trunk bones. However, in females, growth before and after puberty equally decrease the risk of disease.
Liver fat and cardiometabolic risk factors
The researchers observed the effect of liver fat and cardiometabolic risk factors on the relationship between height and diabetes risk.
They found some interesting results. Without the potential effect of liver fat, the 10 cm increase in height decreased the risk by 34% in males. In females, the same increase in height decreased the risk of diabetes by 13%.
Among cardiometabolic risk factors, blood fats and glycated hemoglobin influenced the relationship between height and disease risk in males. However, in females, adiponectin and C-reactive proteins also exhibit their impact.
These results suggested that the favorable effect of height on reduced risk of diabetes appears in taller individuals. This occurs when they have less liver fat and favorable cardiometabolic profile.
The whole study suggests the evaluation of cardiometabolic profile along with height to predict the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers advise the regular monitoring of lipid and cardiometabolic profiles in people with short stature to prevent any complication.
They conclude that we need to focus on the determinants of growth in pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. We should consider the potential sex difference in growth. This may help in the implementation of early interventions to reduce height-related metabolic disease risks.