Even those who are not obese or even overweight can put themselves at an increased risk of diabetes if they eat a diet high in fat content, doctors and researchers say.
Women who "yo-yo" diet and have a high percentage of body fat despite maintaining slim figures -- dubbed "cream puffs" by one researcher -- are warned that wearing a size small is no guarantee that their diet is not increasing their risk of developing diabetes.
In 1993, Mackay Hospital researchers gathered a sample of 954 women without diabetes and tracked their condition. Ten years later, they concluded that the three biggest factors that increase the likelihood of developing diabetes are obesity, family history and weight gain.
The average rate of diabetes in this country is 3.64 per thousand individuals. Of the diabetics, 73.3 are overweight or obese while 26.7 are of normal weight or underweight. The study showed that obesity increased the likelihood of diabetes by 10 times while family history of diabetes increased it by six times.
Even though obesity is the leading factor associated with diabetes, many women who are not obese nevertheless put themselves at greater risk of developing diabetes by gaining weight, the study's authors said. A healthy diet and lifestyle are the key to weight maintenance while "yo-yo" dieting can lead to a greater risk of diabetes even among those who are not obese, said Huang Li-ching (黃麗卿), an attending physician in Mackay's general practice department.
Huang said that she had noticed a "mini yo-yo" effect among Taiwanese females. Indulging in fatty snacks on weekends, figure conscious women then cut back on calorie-rich foods during the week, causing their weight to fluctuate constantly by a few kilograms.
Huang has dubbed these women "cream puffs" because even though they may not be obese, their penchant for high-fat foods and refined carbohydrate products leads to a high body fat content, especially in terms of the visceral fat that surrounds bodily organs.
In the course of visiting Adventist Hospital's infertility center for treatment in Taipei, a 30-year old woman who is not overweight unexpectedly discovered that her blood sugar levels were high enough to have put her in intensive care in some cases. Another young woman, 29, found that she was diabetic despite weighing only 39kg.
Adventist Hospital's chief of gynecology Wei Hsiao-rei (魏曉瑞) said that more Taiwanese women are putting themselves at risk of diabetes through high fat diets even though they control their weight.