Aims/hypothesis: We studied the impact of a family history of type 2 diabetes on physical fitness, lifestyle factors and diabetes-related metabolic factors.
Methods: The Prevalence, Prediction and Prevention of Diabetes (PPP)-Botnia study is a population-based study in Western Finland, which includes a random sample of 5,208 individuals aged 18 to 75 years identified through the national Finnish Population Registry. Physical activity, dietary habits and family history of type 2 diabetes were assessed by questionnaires and physical fitness by a validated 2 km walking test. Insulin secretion and action were assessed based upon OGTT measurements of insulin and glucose.
Results: A family history of type 2 diabetes was associated with a 2.4-fold risk of diabetes and lower physical fitness (maximal aerobic capacity 29.2 +/- 7.2 vs 32.1 +/- 7.0, p = 0.01) despite having similar reported physical activity to that of individuals with no family history. The same individuals also had reduced insulin secretion adjusted for insulin resistance, i.e. disposition index (p < 0.001) despite having higher BMI (27.4 +/- 4.6 vs 26.0 +/- 4.3 kg/m(2), p < 0.001).
Conclusions/interpretation: Individuals with a family history of type 2 diabetes are characterised by lower physical fitness, which cannot solely be explained by lower physical activity. They also have an impaired capacity of beta cells to compensate for an increase in insulin resistance imposed by an increase in BMI. These defects should be important targets for interventions aiming at preventing type 2 diabetes in individuals with inherited susceptibility to the disease.