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Short Legs Linked to Type 2 Diabetes?

Low Leg-to-Height Ratio May Indicate Diabetes Risk, Study Shows
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 12, 2006 -- Type 2 diabetesdiabetes -- the most frequent kind -- may be slightly more common among adults with disproportionately short legs than in their leggier peers.

So says a study in the July edition of Diabetes Care.

The researchers, who included Keiko Asao, MD, MPH, of Johns Hopkins University in Balitmore, Md., aren't quite sure how to explain their findings. Hormones or nutritionnutrition before birth or in childhood may affect both development and diabetes risk, they suggest.

Type 2 diabetes is often linked to excess weight.

Leg Link to Diabetes?

In their study, Asao and colleagues checked data from a U.S. health survey given from 1988-1994. Participants included about 3,600 men and 3,800 women aged 40 to 74 years (average age: about 55 years).

The nationally representative survey included physical exams and lab tests. During those checkups, participants' height and leg length were measured.

Being short didn't affect diabetes risk, after adjusting for other factors. But having a low leg-to-height ratio was associated with a slightly higher risk of type 2 diabetes, based on blood sugar tests given during the checkups, even after weighing other risk factors.

More Established Risk Factors

While the researchers try to figure out the leg length connection, there are plenty of other, more established diabetes risk factors to watch for, including:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Age 45 and older
  • Being overweight
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High blood pressureHigh blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • History of diabetes during pregnancypregnancy
  • History of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • History of vascular disease, such as strokestroke
  • Race or ethnic background (diabetes risk is higher for Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans, and Asians).

Diabetes Signs

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed. More than 6 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and don't know it, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.

Warning signs include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • FatigueFatigue
  • Increased urination, especially at night
  • Weight lossWeight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Sores that do not heal

See your doctor to get screened for diabetes.

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