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Short Stature Raises the Risk of Diabetes

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Article Summary:

  • New research suggests that being short in height increases the likelihood that a person will develop diabetes
  • The connection between diabetes and height might be due to factors including a greater impact from weight gain and high blood pressure
  • Losing excess weight and exercising daily can help prevent diabetes regardless of height

Height and Diabetes Research

While good things may come in small packages, those of us who are shorter in stature may not always be thrilled about our lack of height. It can be a pain in the neck when the high shelves in the supermarket are out of reach or pants are designed with people six inches taller in mind. Of course, these are just minor annoyances that come with the territory of a smaller frame. Then again, when playing hide-and-seek, we can fit in smaller places. But unfortunately, new research has discovered something considerably more serious that may be associated with shorter height: A higher risk of a common chronic condition.

The study, which was conducted at the University of Potsdam in Germany, found that people of shorter than average height may have an increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes.1Wittenbecher, Clemens; et al. “Associations of short stature and components of height with the incidence of type 2 diabetes: mediating effects of cardiometabolic risk factors.” Diabetologia. 9 September 2019. Accessed 17 September 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-019-04978-8. These results are based on an investigation that included 2,500 men and women ranging in age from 35 to 65 years old when the researchers began collecting data on the subjects in the mid-1990s.

Roughly 700 of the participants developed diabetes over the course of the seven years during which they were tracked. Surprisingly, the connection between stature and type 2 diabetes was most notable in those who were not overweight at the start of the study. Among the volunteers who were initially normal weight, each four inches of increased height was linked to an 86 percent lower risk of diabetes in men and a 67 percent drop in risk in women.

Why Would Height Affect Diabetes Risk?

The investigation was not designed to prove cause and effect, so we don’t know that shorter height actually causes a higher likelihood of developing diabetes, only that there is an association between the two. But the researchers theorize that the difference might be due to increased metabolic risk factors like higher blood pressure, greater levels of inflammation, high triglyceride levels, or a tendency to accumulate more fat in the liver.

Another part of the problem might have something to do with the fact that short individuals can gain less weight than their taller peers and yet go up faster in body-mass index (BMI). In fact, a 2019 study at Maastricht University Medical Center in The Netherlands showed that, among women at least, those with smaller stature tend to gain more weight over their lifespan and live shorter lives.2Brandts, Lloyd and van den Brandt, Piet A. “Body size, non-occupational physical activity and the chance of reaching longevity in men and women: findings from the Netherlands Cohort Study.” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 8 February 2019. Accessed 18 September 2019. https://jech.bmj.com/content/73/3/239. So, even if the subjects in the current research were not overweight, gaining just a few pounds on their smaller frames might make enough of an impact to trigger insulin resistance, which involves changes in the way the body reacts to the insulin it produces.

Protecting Yourself From Diabetes, No Matter What Your Height

Obviously, the adult height we reach is completely out of our control. The good news, however, is that there are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes that are totally within your control. Keeping your weight in the normal range for your height is very important, as excess weight—particularly around the midsection—is closely linked to diabetes. Therefore, if you are on the shorter side, make an extra effort to monitor your weight and cut back on calories if you notice you’ve gained a few pounds.

Other risk factors for diabetes include having gestational diabetes during pregnancy, high cholesterol levels, and high triglycerides. And of course, exercise is very valuable in the prevention of diabetes. Studies have shown that doing strength training workouts can help you avoid diabetes. But in truth, the most effective physical activity is the one that you’re going to commit to doing daily, so choose whatever kind of exercise you enjoy.

And you might want to consider doing a regular liver detox to minimize the chances of building up excess fats and triglycerides in your liver. And you also might want to consider the daily use of a blood sugar and lipid metabolic enhancement formula to help mitigate many of the negative effects associated with a bad diet.

References   [ + ]

1. Wittenbecher, Clemens; et al. “Associations of short stature and components of height with the incidence of type 2 diabetes: mediating effects of cardiometabolic risk factors.” Diabetologia. 9 September 2019. Accessed 17 September 2019. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-019-04978-8.
2. Brandts, Lloyd and van den Brandt, Piet A. “Body size, non-occupational physical activity and the chance of reaching longevity in men and women: findings from the Netherlands Cohort Study.” Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 8 February 2019. Accessed 18 September 2019. https://jech.bmj.com/content/73/3/239.

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