Triglyceride test

Hypertriglyceridemia in Young Adults Raising Red Flags


Persistent hypertriglyceridemia is linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D) in young adults, independent of lifestyle factors.


  • This prospective study analyzed the data of 1,840,251 individuals aged 20-39 years from the South Korean National Health Insurance Service database (mean age 34 years, 71% male).
  • The individuals had undergone four consecutive annual health checkups between 2009 and 2012 and had no history of T2D.
  • The individuals were sorted into five groups indicating the number of hypertriglyceridemia diagnoses over four consecutive years: 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, defined as serum fasting triglyceride levels of 150 mg/dL or higher.
  • Data on lifestyle-related risk factors, such as smoking status and heavy alcohol consumption, were collected through self-reported questionnaires.
  • The primary outcome was newly diagnosed cases of T2D. Over a mean follow-up of 6.53 years, a total of 40,286 individuals developed T2D.


  • The cumulative incidence of T2D increased with an increase in exposure scores for hypertriglyceridemia (log-rank test, P < .001), independent of lifestyle-related factors.
  • The incidence rate per 1000 person-years was 1.25 for participants with an exposure score of 0 and 11.55 for those with a score of 4.
  • For individuals with exposure scores of 1, 2, 3, and 4, the adjusted hazard ratios for incident diabetes were 1.674 (95% CI, 1.619-1.732), 2.192 (2.117-2.269), 2.637 (2.548-2.73), and 3.715 (3.6-3.834), respectively, vs those with an exposure score of 0.
  • Exploratory subgroup analyses suggested the risk for T2D in persistent hypertriglyceridemia were more pronounced among people in their 20s than in their 30s and in women.


"Identification of individuals at higher risk based on triglyceride levels and management strategies for persistent hypertriglyceridemia in young adults could potentially reduce the burden of young-onset type 2 diabetes and enhance long-term health outcomes," the authors wrote.


The study, led by Min-Kyung Lee, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Myongji Hospital, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea, was published online in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.


The scoring system based on fasting triglyceride levels of ≥ 150 mg/dL may have limitations, as the cumulative incidence of T2D also varied significantly for mean triglyceride levels. Moreover, relying on a single annual health checkup for hypertriglyceridemia diagnosis might not capture short-term fluctuations. Despite sufficient cases and a high follow-up rate, the study might have underestimated the incidence of T2D.


This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korean Government and the faculty grant of Myongji Hospital. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

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