Are obesity and anthropometry risk factors for diabetic retinopathy? The diabetes management project

Purpose: To investigate the relationship between anthropometric parameters and diabetic retinopathy (DR) in adults with diabetes.

Methods: Five hundred participants with diabetes were recruited prospectively from ophthalmology clinics in Melbourne, Australia. Each underwent an eye examination, anthropometric measurements, and standardized interview-administered questionnaires, and fasting blood glucose and serum lipids were analyzed. Two-field fundus photographs were taken and graded for DR. Height; weight; body mass index (BMI); waist, hip, neck, and head circumferences; and skinfold measurements were recorded.

Results: A total of 492 patients (325 men, 66.1%) aged between 26 and 90 years (median, 65) were included in the analysis: 171 (34.8%), 187 (38.0%), and 134 (27.2%) with no DR, nonproliferative DR (NPDR), and proliferative DR (PDR), respectively. After multiple adjustments, higher BMI (odds ratio [OR], 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI],1.01-1.11; P = 0.02) was significantly associated with any DR. Obese people were 6.5 times more likely to have PDR than were those with normal weight (OR, 6.52; 95% CI, 1.49-28.6; P = 0.013). Neck circumference (OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.00-1.10; P = 0.03) and waist circumference (OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.03-1.22; P = 0.01) were significantly associated with any DR. BMI (OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.00-1.08; P = 0.04) and neck circumference (OR, 1.04 95% CI, 1.01-1.08; P = 0.04) were also positively associated with increasing severity levels of DR.

Conclusions: Persons with diabetes with higher BMI and larger neck circumference are more likely to have DR and more severe stages of DR. These data suggest that obesity is an independent risk factor for DR.

Dirani M., Xie J., Fenwick E. et al. Are obesity and anthropometry risk factors for diabetic retinopathy? The diabetes management project. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011;52(7):4416-21.
doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-7208.