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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017 May;25(5):965-971. doi: 10.1002/oby.21820. Epub 2017 Mar 27.

Childhood body mass index and development of type 2 diabetes throughout adult life-A large-scale danish cohort study.

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Department of Clinical Epidemiology (formerly the Institute of Preventive Medicine), Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospitals, The Capital Region, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Section on Metabolic Genetics, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



This study investigated how a wide spectrum of body mass index (BMI) values at ages 7 to 13 years are associated with type 2 diabetes throughout adulthood, including potential modifying effects of sex and birth weight.


From the Copenhagen School Health Records Register, 292,827 individuals, born between 1930 and 1989, were followed in national registers for type 2 diabetes (women, n = 7,472; men, n = 11,548). Heights and weights were measured at ages 7 to 13 years.


Below-average BMIs, with few exceptions, were not associated with type 2 diabetes. Above-average BMIs had positive associations that were stronger in women than men, stronger in younger birth cohorts, and weaker with older age at diagnosis. Women born 1930-1947, 1948-1965, and 1966-1983 with above-average BMIs at 13 years (≥18.2 kg/m2 ) had hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) ranging from 2.12 (1.91-2.36) to 2.84 (2.31-3.49) per z score when diagnosed at 30 to 47 years. Birth weight did not modify these associations.


Childhood BMIs below average are not associated with type 2 diabetes, whereas childhood BMIs above average are strongly associated with type 2 diabetes in adulthood, corresponding to excess risks even at levels below international definitions of overweight. The associations are stronger in women than men but are not affected by birth weight.

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