(HealthDay News) — The risk of developing diabetes is higher in younger adults vs. middle-aged adults despite the same duration and degree of weight gain, according to research published in Diabetes Care.

Gina S. Wei, MD, MPH, of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues examined rates and risk of incident diabetes using data from three cohort studies for a total of 17,404 participants (56% women, 21% black). 

Participants were stratified by baseline age as younger adults (≥30 and <45 years) and middle-aged adults (≥45 and <60 years). Duration and degree of weight gain in BMI was calculated as “BMI-years” above one’s baseline BMI.

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Diabetes incidence per 1,000 person-years, in younger adults and middle-aged adults, respectively, was 7.2 and 24.4 in blacks and 3.4 and 10.5 in whites, the researchers found. 

After multivariable adjustment, weight gains in BMI-years were associated with higher risk for diabetes in younger adults than in middle-aged adults (HRs for 1-unit increase in log BMI-years: in blacks, 1.18 [P=.02] vs. 1.02 [P=.39]; P for interaction by age-group=.047 and in whites, 1.35 vs. 1.11 [both P<.001]; P for interaction by age-group=008).

“Although middle-aged adults have higher rates of diabetes, younger adults are at greater relative risk of developing diabetes for a given level of duration and degree of weight gain,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Wei GS et al. Diabetes Care. 2015;doi:10.2337/dc14-2770.