Tall people might be at greater risk of developing cancer, but short people aren’t off the hook. Shorter people are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new European study has confirmed. The study researchers analyzed information from thousands of people in Germany who underwent a physical exam and blood tests, were followed for about seven years. And it’s quite a significant difference: each 10 centimeter of extra height decreases the risk by 41% in men and 33% in women on average, when adjustments are made for age, potential lifestyle cofounders, education and waist circumference. According to the researchers, the increased risk in shorter individuals may be due to higher liver fat content and a less favorable profile of cardio-metabolic risk factors.
“Our findings suggest that short people might present with higher cardiometabolic risk factor levels and have higher diabetes risk compared with tall people,” said study researcher from the German Institute of Human Nutrition, Germany. For this study, the research team looked at more than 2,500 middle-aged men and women in Germany from a pool of about 26,000 people, after adjusting for age, lifestyle, education, and waist circumference. The association of height with diabetes risk appeared to be stronger among normal-weight individuals, with an 86 percent lower risk per 10cm larger height in men, and 67 percent lower risk per 10cm larger height in women. In overweight/obese individuals, each 10cm larger height was associated with diabetes risk being 36 percent lower for men and 30 percent lower for women. This may indicate that a higher diabetes risk with larger waist circumference counterparts beneficial effects related to height, irrespective of whether larger waist circumference is due to growth or due to consuming too many calories, according to the researchers.
” Our study also suggests that early interventions reduce height-related metabolic risk throughout life likely need to focus on the determinants of growth in sensitive periods during pregnancy, early childhood, puberty, and early adulthood, and should take potential sex differences into account,” they added.
Short stature also is related to higher cardiovascular risk, which, they say, might in part be medicated by cardiometabolic risk factors relevant to type 2 diabetes; for example, blood pressure, blood fats, and inflammation.