OBJECTIVE - To investigate the association between birth weight and risk of type 2 diabetes, abdominal obesity and hypertension among Chinese adults.
RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES - Nine hundred and seventy-three individuals from a population-based cross-sectional survey for the prevalence of type 2 diabetes conducted in Shanghai in 2002 were enrolled and followed up to 2004 with yearly examination. Birth weight was classified into four categories: <2500, 2500-2999, 3000-3499 and >or=3500 g.
RESULTS - In this study, there were 373 males and 600 females, with a mean age of 46.2+/-9.9 years. Fasting plasma glucose was higher in subjects with the lowest birth weight (<2500 g) compared with those with the highest birth weight. Waist circumference and systolic blood pressure showed U-shaped relationships with birth weight. Birth weight was found to be an independent risk factor for type 2 diabetes, abdominal obesity and hypertension. For type 2 diabetes, the crude odds ratio (95% confidence interval) was 3.17 (1.48-6.78) in the lowest birth weight category when compared with that in the highest birth weight category (>or=3500 g) and the ratio increased to 3.97 (1.71-9.22) after adjustment for related variables. The highest prevalence of type 2 diabetes (34.5%) was observed among those with the lowest birth weight and abdominal obesity.
CONCLUSIONS - Birth weight is inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes. Subjects with the lowest or the highest birth weight were associated with a high risk of developing abdominal obesity and hypertension. Low birth weight coupled with abdominal obesity is a strong predictor of type 2 diabetes.