Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and Boston's Harvard University found nurses who reported being overweight at age 5 were twice as likely to develop diabetes as those who remembered being normal weight.
Those reported being obese at age 18 were almost nine times more likely to develop diabetes than their normal-weight counterparts.
The study, published in Diabetes Care, also examined the combined effect of extra weight at various ages. Compared with women who were not overweight at ages 5, 10 and 20, those who reported being overweight at all three ages were 15 times more likely to develop diabetes. However, women who recalled being overweight at age 10 but not overweight as adults were no more likely to become diabetic than peers who had been normal-weight as children.
"These findings suggest that ensuring that overweight kids reverse their weight gain is critical to limiting their future risk of diabetes as adults," study author Edwina Yeung of the National Institutes of Health said in a statement.
Yeung and colleagues tracked 109,172 female nurses from 1989 to 2005 and found 3,307 cases of type 2 diabetes.