If you were born with a low birth weight, better start living a healthy lifestyle, as a new study has revealed that combination of low weigh birth and unhealthy adult lifestyle poses greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Associate professor at Harvard Chan School, Lu Qi said that most cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented adapting healthier lifestyle, however, the findings suggested that efforts focused on early life development, such as improving nutrition for pregnant women, could prevent additional cases. Qi and colleagues studied health data collected from 149,794 healthy men and women tracked by three large ongoing trials.
Participants were scored on five lifestyle factors: diet, smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and body mass index. Those who did not provide their birth weight were excluded from this analysis. It was found that 22 percent of these cases could be attributed to a lower birth weight alone, 59 percent to unhealthy lifestyle alone, and 18 percent to the interaction between both factors.
The researchers suggest that poor nourishment in pregnant women may cause the fetus to prepare for survival in a resource-scarce environment. When the adaptive response to prenatal starvation is mismatched with exposure to an affluent environment later in life, it could heighten the risk of type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Yanping Li, a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition, said that their findings suggested that the public health consequences of unhealthy lifestyles would be larger in low birth weight populations.
This was of critical importance in the developing countries undergoing rapid epidemiological transition from traditional to Western lifestyles, such as China and India, where cigarette smoking, sedentary activities, obesity, and diabetes has been increasing dramatically, and low birth weight is still highly prevalent. The findings are published in the online journal BMJ Open