Short Stature and the Risk of Adiposity, Insulin Resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes in Middle Age

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Diabetes Care

Publication Date


Date Added



OBJECTIVE—To investigate the association between stature-related measurements (height, leg length, and leg length–to–height ratio) and adiposity, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of a nationally representative sample of 7,424 adults aged 40–74 years, from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988–1994). The main outcome measures were percent body fat, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and glucose intolerance based on the World Health Organization’s 1985 criteria for an oral glucose tolerance test. RESULTS—Shorter height and leg length, and lower leg length–to–height ratio, were associated with higher percent body fat, especially in women. Lower leg length–to–height ratio was associated with greater insulin resistance estimated by HOMA-IR. In multinomial regression models adjusting for potential confounders, including percent body fat, the relative prevalence of type 2 diabetes per 1-SD lower values in height, leg length, and leg length–to–height ratio were 1.10 (95% CI 0.94–0.29), 1.17 (0.98–1.39), and 1.19 (1.02–1.39), respectively. CONCLUSIONS—Our study supports the hypothesis that adult markers of prepubertal growth, especially leg length–to–height ratio, are associated with adiposity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes in the general U.S. population.






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Additional authors: Erlinger, Thomas P.; Brancati, Frederick L.