Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is Diabetes Risk Nurture or Nature?

Most people are aware that diabetes, being a risk factor for heart disease, is caused by development of insulin resistance. Nevertheless, many may not know what cause diabetes.

Previous research has shown that babies who are small at birth are more likely to have rapid weight gain in childhood. This means that it is highly possible that these babies will be obese and have insulin resistance in adulthood.

A new study in twins, carried out by the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, indicated that development of insulin resistance is influenced more by current body weight than by birth weight. Based on the results found, the researchers further suggested the after delivery growth pattern is potentially more important than fetal growth, in terms of later development of insulin resistance.

1194 females twins aged between 18 and 74 were included in the study. The relationships between birth weight, body mass index (BMI) and change in body size over the life course and insulin resistance were studied.

The researchers could not determine a significant relationship between a person’s weight at birth and the development of insulin resistance. However, they did find out that there was a significant positive relationship between current weight and insulin resistance: insulin resistance increased with the increasing of current BMI.

This association was mediated equally through both individual effects and shared environment influences of the twins. No evidence was found to show that relationships between birth weight, BMI and change in body size and insulin resistance were mediated by genetic makeup.

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