HealthDay News — Certain trajectories of body mass index during childhood may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, according to research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

To examine the trajectories of childhood growth with type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk, Johan G. Eriksson, MD, of the University of Helsinki, and colleagues analyzed data for a cohort of 13,345 patients. Detailed records of growth had been kept during childhood, and 11.7% of the participants had been diagnosed with T2D.

The cohort was divided into two groups according to the median body mass index (BMI) at age 11 years (16.8 kg/m² in boys and 17.0 kg/m² in girls). Body composition and glucose tolerance were assessed in a subsample of the cohort in adulthood.

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Two pathways of child growth that were associated with the development of T2D, found the researchers. In one pathway, persistent low BMI during infancy was followed by a rapid increase in BMI during childhood. Among participants with a BMI higher than the median value at age 11 years, the odds ratio for T2D associated with a one z-score increase in BMI between ages 2 and 11 years was 1.31 (95% P<0.001).

In the other pathway, low BMI accompanied by short length at birth was followed by low BMI in childhood. Many women who developed T2D showed this pattern, in which they developed T2D at a lower BMI and lower fat percentage than women with a BMI higher than the median at age 11 years.

“Low fat deposition leading to thinness at birth and during infancy results in fat acquisition during childhood,” concluded the scientists.

“Reduced linear growth leading to short length at birth is associated with lower body fat percentage in adulthood but increased risk of developing diabetes.”


  1. Eriksson JG et al. Journal of Internal Medicine. 2015; doi: 10.1111/joim.12354