Objective: To examine associations between adult weight gain and diabetes among African Americans and Whites.
Method: Cross-sectional interview data from 19,589 African American men, 6202 White men, 27,021 African American women, and 11,623 White women enrolled in the Southern Community Cohort Study in the southeastern USA from 2002 to 2009 were analyzed in multivariate logistic regression models to examine odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals between self-reported diabetes and weight change from age 21.
Results: Diabetes odds rose with increasing weight gain and effects varied somewhat by race and gender; odds ratios (95% confidence interval) for diabetes associated with weight gain of 40+ kg compared to stable weight (change <5 kg) were 3.3 (2.8-4.0) for African American males, 3.6 (2.7-4.8) for White males, 2.6 (2.3-3.1) for African American females, and 4.0 (3.2-4.9) for White females. Among women, significantly increased diabetes odds (41% for Whites and 21% for African Americans) were observed even for weight gain of 5-10 kg. Relative increases in odds ratios for diabetes were most pronounced among individuals who had a healthy body mass index (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) at age 21 compared to those already overweight.
Conclusion: Adult weight gain is strongly associated with diabetes across gender and race groups indicating that a uniform prevention message can be presented, even to those of healthy weight.