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From the Current Issue

New Research:
Weight Affects Risk of Type 2 Diabetes More Than Activity Level

When it comes to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is more important: fitness or fatness? According to a new study, weight plays a far greater role than exercise.

The study involved 37,878 participants in the Women’s Health Study who were free from diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Researchers classified the women as normal weight, overweight, or obese based on body mass index (BMI), and as active if they burned more than 1,000 calories a week on activities such as walking, swimming, bicycling, and climbing stairs.

After an average of nearly seven years, 1,361 of the women had developed diabetes. Compared with women of normal weight, those who were overweight had more than three times the risk of diabetes, and those who were obese had more than nine times the risk. By contrast, women who were active reduced their risk of diabetes by just 15% compared with the inactive women.

The authors of an accompanying editorial point out that although body weight has a far greater effect than activity on diabetes risk, exercise is still a key component of weight loss. In addition, research suggests that exercise is more important than weight in relation to cardiovascular disease.

Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume 292, pages 1188 and 1232
September 8, 2004


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The Diabetes White Paper from The Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Hopkins physicians.



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