Introduction There is an emerging epidemic of diabetes in China despite a relatively non-obese population. Genetics and lifestyle undoubtedly play a key role. We hypothesise that environmentally driven muscle mass acquisition at puberty may also be relevant. To test this hypothesis we examined the association of sex-steroids with muscle mass and of muscle mass with fasting glucose and insulin in a sample of Chinese adolescents.
Methods In 40 adolescents (20 boys, 20 girls, age 12.9±0.1 years), from Hong Kong's “Children of 1997” birth cohort, we assessed fasting glucose, insulin, sex-steroids and sex hormone binding globulin from a morning blood sample, and muscle and fat mass from a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan. Lifestyle was obtained from a questionnaire. We used multivariable linear regression to assess adjusted associations.
Results Free and bio-available testosterone were positively associated with muscle mass, as was physical activity. Muscle mass was associated with lower glucose (−0.04 mmol/l, 95% CI −0.08 to −0.01 per kg muscle mass) and lower insulin (−0.94 uU/ml, 95% CI −1.75 to −0.14); adjusted for sex and fat mass.
Conclusions Environmentally driven muscle mass acquisition at puberty could potentially be an additional factor influencing diabetes, of which further investigation is warranted.
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