Several research studies have tried to assess the effect of height on the patient’s risk of developing diabetes and its complications.

The link between diabetes risk and height is rather interesting.

According to most research studies, height could be a major factor to consider while assessing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Clinical studies have revealed that shorter people are at a higher risk while taller people are at a lower risk of developing diabetes.

The shorter height is particularly linked to the risk of type 2 diabetes than type 1 diabetes.

Let us have a closer look at what research studies have revealed about the influence of height on the pathogenesis of diabetes.

The research behind

One study has proven that an inverse association exists between height and the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially among men. This link is largely related to the length of the leg. Researchers have proven that the risk of type 2 diabetes reduces by 41% in men and 33% in women for each additional height of about 10 centimeters (or 4 inches).

Specifically, it was found that men with the longest legs had the least chances of developing diabetes.

Also, men with shorter height tend to have a shorter forearm length and legs. This could be related to the lack of good nutrition in childhood, which is a known risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

In males, the connection between the leg length and the risk of type 2 diabetes is stronger than that in women.

Researchers have found that other than the leg length, the sitting height of a person may also be involved in influencing the development of this condition.

Also, the growth of the leg bones before puberty could have a significant effect on lowering diabetes risk than the growth after puberty in men. In females, however, the growth of the leg bones both before and after puberty might contribute to the reduced diabetes risk.

This inverse association is believed to be driven to some extent by the lower fat content in the liver as well as a favourable cardiometabolic profile in taller people. [13]

Some of the increased risks in shorter people could also be traced to abnormal blood lipid levels, and elevated levels of adiponectin, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein.

Liver fat and increased levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol that are more common in shorter people can affect the metabolic functions in their body due to which the pathogenesis of diabetes may get triggered.

How is insulin linked to diabetes?

The high risk of diabetes in shorter people could also be linked to the reduced insulin sensitivity in them.

Research studies have shown that taller people might have a higher insulin sensitivity. This means the cells and tissues in their body are more receptive to the insulin secreted in the pancreas to metabolize glucose.

Insulin plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels. The lack of responsiveness of the cells to insulin can lead to a state called insulin resistance due to which this hormone becomes less efficient in controlling blood sugar levels.

Moreover, short height due to intrauterine growth retardation can also lead to long-term consequences including lower insulin sensitivity. [14]

This means the reduced insulin sensitivity in short people prevents insulin from working efficiently due to which their blood sugar levels tend to remain high. This is another reason why shorter people are more likely to develop diabetes.

While there is not much anyone can do about the height, being aware of the possible risk of diabetes and making appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes could help shorter people to avoid this illness.

References:

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00125-019-04978-8
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9270455/

Author

I am a doctor and working as a research based Medical Writer and Editor for more than 8 years. Passion for writing and an excellent medical background are my strong points. I love to combine my two passions into a profession wherein I can write professional articles in the field of medicine, health, and nutrition.​