Birth weight and prediabetes in a nationally representative sample of US adolescents

Clin Obes. 2022 Apr;12(2):e12504. doi: 10.1111/cob.12504. Epub 2021 Dec 23.


Prediabetes affects about 20% of adolescents in the United States. Previous studies have shown that low and high birth weight impairs glucose homeostasis in adults; however, limited research has examined this relationship in adolescents. To investigate association of birthweight with prediabetes in US adolescents using data from NHANES 2005-2016 and examine whether sex and obesity moderate this relationship. Adolescents, aged 12-15 years without diagnosed/undiagnosed diabetes and extreme birthweight (n = 1396), were classified as low birth weight (LBW), normal birthweight (NBW) and high birth weight (HBW). Logistic regression examined relationship of birthweight with odds of prediabetes. Likelihood ratio test tested interactions of birthweight with sex and obesity measures. In this nationally representative cross-sectional study, LBW adolescents had significantly higher odds of prediabetes compared to NBW counterparts (Odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 1.93 (1.10, 3.38); p < .05). Sex and obesity moderated the association, such that the strength of the relationship of LBW with increased prediabetes odds was greater among male adolescents (Odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 2.40 (1.02, 5.67); p < .05) and those with overweight/obesity (Odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 2.13 (1.01, 4.49); p < .05). Findings imply that the adverse effects of LBW on glucose homeostasis could be manifested early in life. Further, the higher odds of prediabetes among LBW adolescents who are male or have overweight/obesity underscore the heightened need for prediabetes screening of these subgroups.

Keywords: NHANES; birthweight; obesity; prediabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prediabetic State* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology