Obesity, Weight Gain Increase Diabetes Risk after 50

Obesity and weight gain dramatically increase the chances of developing diabetes for senior citizens, a new study shows.

Gaining weight after age 50 can increase the risk of developing diabetes, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Washington followed a group of more than 4,000 seniors age 65 and older for over 12 years to determine the impact of weight gain and obesity on diabetes risk in the elderly. Of the participants, 339 new cases of diabetes were identified during the follow-up.

The heaviest study participants were two to six times more likely to develop diabetes when compared to participants of a normal weight. The likelihood of diabetes was five times greater for those who were considered obese at age 50 and gained more than 20 pounds prior to entering the study compared to those who were a normal weight and did not gain weight.

“We already knew it was important to maintain an optimal weight to lower diabetes risk, and this study finds that it remains important into old age,” Mary L. Biggs, PhD, of the University of Washington, Seattle, told WebMD.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the risk of developing diabetes was four times higher for those who had the highest body mass index (BMI) and biggest waist circumference. People who were overweight or obese and older than 75 at the time of the study were twice as likely to develop diabetes.

The findings indicate that weight control, exercise and healthy eating are important at all stages of life to stave off diabetes; however, senior citizens should be careful of dieting because they can lose muscle mass in addition to excess weight.

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