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Diabetes and Endocrinology - Geriatrics - Public Health and Epidemiology

Age at Menarche, the Leg Length to Sitting Height Ratio, and Risk of Diabetes in Middle-Aged and Elderly Chinese Men and Women
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Author: Baqiyyah N. Conway et al.

by Baqiyyah N. Conway, Xiao-Ou Shu, Xianglan Zhang, Yong-Bing Xiang, Hui Cai, Honglan Li, Gong Yang, Yu-Tang Gao, Wei Zheng


To evaluate the associations of age at menarche and the leg length-to-sitting-height ratio, markers of adolescent growth, with risk of diabetes in later life.

Materials and Methods

Information from 69,385 women and 55,311 men, aged 40–74 years from the Shanghai Women's Health Study and Shanghai Men's Health Study, were included in the current analyses. Diabetes status was ascertained through biennial in person follow-up. Cox models, with age as the time scale, were used.


There were 2369 cases of diabetes (1831 women; 538 men) during an average of 7.3 and 3.6 years of follow-up of the women and men, respectively. In females, menarche age was inversely associated with diabetes risk after adjustment for birth cohort, education, and income (HR?=?0.95, 0.92–0.98). In both genders, leg length-to-sitting-height ratio was inversely related to diabetes (HR?=?0.88, 0.80–0.97 for men; HR?=?0.91, 0.86–0.96 for women) after adjustment for birth cohort, education, and income. Further adjustment for adult BMI at study enrollment completely eliminated the associations of age at menarche (HR?=?0.99, 0.96–1.02) and the leg length-to-sitting-height ratio (HR?=?1.00, 0.91–1.10 for men; HR?=?1.01, 0.96–1.07 for women) with diabetes risk.


Our study suggests that markers of an early age at peak height velocity, i.e. early menarche age and low leg-length-to-sitting height ratio, may be associated with diabetes risk later in life and this association is likely to be mediated through obesity.