For a long time, it was assumed that being slim protected against diabetes. According to new findings, however, around one in five people who are slim have a significantly increased risk of developing the disease.
The risk of diabetes increases with body weight. This universal rule is still found in numerous (online) guidebooks. However, as a study by the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and the University Hospital of Tübingen recently published in the scientific journal “Cell Metabolism” showed, this only applies to about four out of five people.
According to the researchers led by Norbert Stefan, 18 percent of normal-weight people have a damaged metabolism. Their risk of cardiovascular disease and death – in addition to diabetes, strokes and heart attacks can also occur more frequently – is more than three times higher. This puts their cardiovascular system at greater risk than overweight people who enjoy a healthy metabolism. “Slim is healthy – this rule of thumb does not always apply,” the scientists sum up.
“Slim patients are often surprised when they are diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes,” reports cardiologist Dr Frank Beekmann, who practices at the Ambulantes Centrum Berlin in the Friedrichshain district. “Yet this is not a rare, exceptional case. For us cardiologists, the new study ultimately only confirms what we already know from our everyday practice: that body weight is not the sole determinant of cardiovascular health, even though it is a significant factor.”
According to the Tübingen study, the high-risk patients affected suffer from a functional disorder that results in little fat being stored on the legs. In addition, there is often a metabolic syndrome, which can manifest itself in high blood pressure, high blood sugar and blood fat levels and/or fat deposits on internal organs. When these symptoms appear, it may therefore be advisable to put the metabolism to the test even in patients with a normal weight.