KEY POINTS

  • Over 34 million people are diabetic in the U.S. and type 2 diabetes is the most common form
  • A new study has found an association between handgrip strength and type 2 diabetes risk
  • Further research can confirm if improving muscular strength through resistance training can cut down type 2 diabetes risk

Over 34 million Americans are diabetic and type 2 diabetes is the most common form, affecting nearly 90-95% of them. Though this chronic condition mostly occurs in people above 45 years, these days more and more younger adults, teens and even children are developing it. Researchers have now found that improving hand strength can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Even though age, obesity, family history and lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity contribute substantially to type 2 diabetes risk, it appears that certain other factors might also be involved.

Reduced muscular strength — measured by handgrip strength — has consistently been associated with disability, heart diseases and premature death. But now, the experts from the Universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland have found that a simple test to determine a person’s handgrip strength could help doctors identify people who might be at risk of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers measured the muscular handgrip strength of over 700 individuals without diabetes over a 20-year period and found that type 2 diabetes risk reduced by about 50% for every unit increase in handgrip strength value. The findings were published in the journal Annals of Medicine.

In the study, the participants were asked to squeeze the handles of a dynamometer using their dominant hand with maximum effort and hold it for about five seconds.

The results demonstrated that improvement in handgrip strength value helped reduce type 2 diabetes risk even after taking into account several factors including age, family history, smoking, hypertension, waist circumference, and fasting plasma glucose levels. The association was more evident in women than men, indicating that women are more likely to benefit from this screening tool. 

"These findings may have implications for the development of type 2 diabetes prevention strategies. Assessment of handgrip is simple, inexpensive, and does not require very skilled expertise and resources and could potentially be used in the early identification of individuals at high risk of future type 2 diabetes," said the study’s lead author Dr. Setor Kunutsor from Bristol’s Musculoskeletal Research Unit.

The researchers said more research is required to establish if improving muscular strength through resistance training can help lower a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes.

Another recent study pointed out that breastfeeding legacy offered protection from type 2 diabetes in women.

hand-gripper-4800853_1280 Study says handgrip strength determines one's risk of type 2 diabetes Photo: MinNettside, Pixabay