Normal-weight people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to die from the disease than overweight or obese people with type 2 diabetes, according to a new study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study compared death rates among 2,625 type 2 diabetics aged 40 and older, and found that the death rate among normal-weight diabetics was 284.8 per 10,000 person-years compared to 152.1 per 10,000 person-years in overweight or obese diabetics. They also found that older adults and non-white participants were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes at a normal weight.
Researchers adjusted for demographics, blood pressure, waist circumference, smoking habits, and lipid levels. While excessive weight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, family history, ethnicity and age may also make one more likely to develop the disease.
Normal-weight people only account for about 5 to 15 percent of type 2 diabetics, thus most of the research has focused on how the disease affects overweight or obese diabetics rather than normal-weight diabetics.
Researchers say that one explanation why normal weight diabetics have a higher mortality rate than overweight and obese diabetics may be because the ones studied are more sedentary. Research has shown that people who are physically active have better control of their blood sugar levels and are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
More than eight percent of the United States population has diabetes, and experts estimate three times more than that have pre-diabetes. While diet and exercise is the first line of defense for treating the disease, the majority of people rely on medication to manage their blood sugar levels.
Diabetes medications can carry serious side effects. Last year, the safety label for the type 2 diabetes drug Actos was updated to include a warning for bladder cancer.