A Korean study identified an inverse association between vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy and body fat in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Previous studies have reached conflicting results regarding the relationship between obesity and diabetic retinopathy (DR). A recent study found that obese Korean patients with diabetes might be less likely to develop vision-threatening DR.
In addition, the authors uncovered a gender difference, i.e., in women total body fat was associated with a lower presence of DR.
Establishing an association between DR and diabetes is important because vision-threatening complications have been observed to develop in up to 10% of this patient population, the investigators noted.
The authors commented, “Although previous epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that poor glycemic control, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and a longer duration of diabetes increase the risk of DR, the known effects of controlling glucose and blood pressure are limited in reducing the risk of DR. Thus, other pathogenic or risk factors are important in understanding the development or progression of DR.”
In the current study, the authors, led by In Cheol Hwang of Gachon University, conducted a nationwide survey to evaluate the association between body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and body fat with DR. All patients were Korean and had type 2 diabetes.
The study data were obtained from the Korean Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2008-2010, a nationwide survey that is conducted periodically by the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare. A total of 1,130 patients with diabetes were identified who had undergone ophthalmic examination. A total of 887 patients (men, 48.6%) ultimately were included; the rest were excluded because of ungradable fundus images.
In Cheol Hwang MD, MPH, PhD
Dr. Hwang is affiliated with the Department of Family Medicine, Gil Medical Center, Gachon University College of Medicine, Incheon, Republic of Korea.
The authors who were from Gil Medical Center, Gachon University College of Medicine, Incheon, Republic of Korea, and Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea, reported no financial interests in any aspect of this report.