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March 08, 2016

Diabetes risk higher for out-of-shape guys, even if they're skinny: study

Study finds lack of fitness at age 18 increases Type 2 diabetes risk

Just because you're skinny doesn't mean you've got perfect health. As a new study shows, being out of shape puts men at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life regardless of their body weight.

As Reuters reported, scientists in New York City, California and Sweden obtained data on more than 1.5 million 18-year-old men who were conscripted for military service in Sweden between 1969 and 1997. Since this service is mandatory, the researchers were able to get fitness test results for nearly every man in the country.

Related story: Even five percent weight loss can be good for your heart

Next, they compared fitness test scores at age 18 to medical records that spanned the next several decades. Men who scored poorly on muscle strength and aerobic capacity as teenagers, even if they had a healthy body weight, were three times more likely to eventually develop Type 2 diabetes.

Overall, around 2 percent of Swedish men were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes later in life, as compared to 9 percent of U.S. adults.

One obvious limitation of the study is that it didn't include women. Also, researchers didn't track men's fitness habits after military service ended, which can have a huge effect on someone's risk for diabetes and obesity.

Read more about the study, published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, here.

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