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Research into “obesity paradox” in diabetics

Queensland scientists have shown that people who are obese when they’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have much better survival rates than those with a healthy weight at time of diagnosis.

The international study, led by Professor Sanjoy Paul from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, involved almost 50,000 Type 2 diabetics.

Professor Paul said the research sparked a new debate on the existence of an “obesity paradox” in diabetes.

“This is a controversial finding in that it flies in the face of standard health advice, that maintaining a healthy weight prevents cardiovascular heart disease and a range of other health conditions,” Dr Paul said.

“Being overweight is also a known risk factor for getting Type 2 diabetes.

“But the data does show quite clearly that a diabetic who is obese at the time of their diagnosis, fares much better when it comes to overall health.”

Diabetes is a condition where a person’s glucose (sugar) is high. It is associated with the increased risk of cardiovascular and renal diseases. More than a million Australians are diabetic, and up to 90 % of those cases are Type 2 diabetes.

This study also involved scientists from Imperial College, London and University of Leicester.

“We will now regroup to investigate the possible reasons behind this “obesity paradox” by using data from 250,000 diabetics from the UK,” Dr Paul said.

This research is published in the current online issue of Diabetics, Obesity and Metabolism and can be viewed at

About Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin, or the insulin is not working effectively. Risk factors include family history and being overweight. Unhealthy eating and a lack of physical activity can contribute to its development. It usually occurs in adults aged over 45 but is increasingly occurring at a younger age.