Type 2 Diabetes Genetic Predisposition, Obesity, and All-Cause Mortality Risk in the US: A Multiethnic Analysis

Link to study

(Responses provided by Aaron Leong, MD)

What was the question you were asking in your study?

Are people who are genetically predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes more likely to die compared to those who aren't? If so, are individuals who are genetically predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes even more likely to die if they were heavier?

What methods did you use?

We genotyped 38 genetic variants in 6,501 individuals from three ethnic/race groups in the United States to assess their genetical predisposition for type 2 diabetes. We then tested whether those with a higher genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes were more likely to die over the subsequent 17 years compared to those with a lower genetic predisposition. We also sought to determine whether the increased risk of dying associated with being genetically predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes was independent of body-mass-index, lifestyle and socioeconomic factors.

What was unique about your approach?

The study participants were representative of the United States population, so our results were generalizable to the entire country. We were also able to explore whether our results were consistent or different between ethnicities/races.

What did you find out?

We found that individuals with a higher genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes were more likely to die during the follow-up period compared to those with a lower genetic predisposition. This increased risk of dying, that was attributable to one's genetics, was probably stronger among obese whites.

Did anything surprise you about the results?

Mexican Americans with a higher genetic predisposition for type 2 diabetes were not more likely to die during the follow-up period compared to those with a lower genetic predisposition.

What will be the next step in the process?

We need to replicate results in a larger group of Mexican Americans. We also need to perform more population-based studies to better understand the impact of type 2 diabetes genetic risk on important long-term health outcomes, especially among non-White individuals. In the midst of a type 2 diabetes and obesity co-epidemic from an increasingly obesogenic environment, maintaining a normal body weight may be especially important for lowering mortality risk in individuals with a high genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes.

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