In case you were starting to feel a little better about being so short, a new study published in the journal Diabetologia is here to remind you why it’s objectively a curse. According to the data within, short people are at a considerably higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes compared to tall people. In fact, men of taller stature enjoy a risk decrease of 41% with each 10 cm height difference, and taller women enjoy a 33% risk decrease for the same.
Although the new report specifically motions that the taller you are the less your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, medically speaking, short stature refers to anyone that is more than two deviations shorter than the mean that corresponds to their respective age and gender-consequenced by a panoply of factors from malnutrition to genetics. So applying these imperatives to a developed country, we can safely locate a medically short man beneath 5’5 (166 centimeters) and medically short woman as one that is shorter than 5’0 (154 centimeters).
The authors of the study write, “Our findings suggest that short people might present with higher cardiometabolic risk factor levels and have higher diabetes risk compared with tall people. These observations corroborate that height is a useful predictive marker for diabetes risk and suggest that monitoring of cardiometabolic risk factors may be more frequently indicated among shorter persons, independent of their body size and composition.”
The health associations and implications that attend stature
This isn’t the first study to intimate stature’s association with overall health. The previously conducted research has suspected that the correlation has to do with insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function both of which are advantageously evidenced in taller people. Insulin sensitivity in taller people dually funds a reduced risk for developing cardiovascular disease, although the very same insulin growth factor leaves these individuals vulnerable to specific cancers.
The authors behind the study, Dr. Clemens Wittenbecher, and Professor Matthias Schulze, of the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke in Germany, and their colleagues additionally found that the inverse height association was particularly pronounced amongst participants of normal weight. Tall men with healthy BMI’s expressed an 86% risk decrease for developing Type 2 diabetes while tall women of normal weight enjoyed a 67% risk decrease per 10 cm of height. Even still, leg length, in particular, proved to be a principle biomarker.
The new research was incentivized by data acquired all the way back in 1998 in The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. EPIC was a study comprised of 27, 548 participants- 16, 644 were women, between the ages of 35 and 65, and 10, 904 men, between the ages of 40 and 65. These subjects had their body weight recorded, their standing height and their sitting height, blood pressure and their weight circumference. The authors wrote, “We found an inverse association between height and risk of Type 2 diabetes among men and women, which was largely related to leg length among men. Part of this inverse association may be driven by the associations of greater height with lower liver fat content and a more favorable profile of cardiometabolic risk factors, specifically blood fats, adiponectin, and C-reactive protein.”
Although liver fat content primarily informed the risk disparity, there is a sea of other biomarkers that are potentially at play. In addition to the ones already stated, glycated hemoglobin (the amount of blood sugar in our bodies), blood fats, adiponectin (protein hormone that helps regulate glucose levels) and C-reactive protein (produced in the liver as a result of inflammation) all independently contributed to the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Associations of short stature and components of height with incidence of Type 2 diabetes: mediating effects of cardiometabolic risk factors, was published in the journal Diabetologia alternatively known as the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and was authored by Clemens Wittenbecher, Olga Kuxhaus, Heiner Boeing, Norbert Stefan and Mathew B, Schulze.