Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Diabetes-Prone Gain More Weight

By Stephen Luntz

People with a family history of diabetes gain more weight than those without when consuming a similar diet, a Garvan Institute study has found. The research was published in Diabetologia.

Calorific requirements were carefully calculated for 17 people with a family history of diabetes and 24 people without. The sample was evenly balanced between men and women. Participants were encouraged to eat 1250 calories per day more than their requirement – similar to what can occur over the Christmas holidays.

At the end, those with a family history had gained 3.4 kg compared with 2.2 kg for those without. All participants were provided with support to lose the weight thereafter.

“It’s already well-known that relatives of people with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop it themselves,” says Prof Lesley Campbell of the University of New South Wales Faculty of Medicine. “Our study shows just how quickly the body reacts to overeating, and how harmful it can be in susceptible people. While we expected differences between the two groups, we were surprised by the amount of extra weight the diabetes-prone group gained.”

Study co-author Dr Dorit Samocha-Bonet says: “We used family histories because, while some of the genes involved in diabetes have been identified, there is a lot that is still unknown”. Although the sample size was small, Samocha-Bonet says the results are statistically significant.

“Many people today are becoming the first in their families to develop diabetes, so those who gain weight easily should monitor themselves,” Samocha-Bonet says. “It’s another reason to be careful of weight gain.”