AIMS - To evaluate the associations of age at menarche and the leg length-to-sitting-height ratio, markers of adolescent growth, with risk of diabetes in later life.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - Information from 69,385 women and 55,311 men, aged 40-74 years from the Shanghai Women's Health Study and Shanghai Men's Health Study, were included in the current analyses. Diabetes status was ascertained through biennial in person follow-up. Cox models, with age as the time scale, were used.
RESULTS - There were 2369 cases of diabetes (1831 women; 538 men) during an average of 7.3 and 3.6 years of follow-up of the women and men, respectively. In females, menarche age was inversely associated with diabetes risk after adjustment for birth cohort, education, and income (HR = 0.95, 0.92-0.98). In both genders, leg length-to-sitting-height ratio was inversely related to diabetes (HR = 0.88, 0.80-0.97 for men; HR = 0.91, 0.86-0.96 for women) after adjustment for birth cohort, education, and income. Further adjustment for adult BMI at study enrollment completely eliminated the associations of age at menarche (HR = 0.99, 0.96-1.02) and the leg length-to-sitting-height ratio (HR = 1.00, 0.91-1.10 for men; HR = 1.01, 0.96-1.07 for women) with diabetes risk.
CONCLUSIONS - Our study suggests that markers of an early age at peak height velocity, i.e. early menarche age and low leg-length-to-sitting height ratio, may be associated with diabetes risk later in life and this association is likely to be mediated through obesity.