Researchers say differences in fat distribution may be to blame.
They analysed data from 51,920 men and 43,137 women in Scotland with diabetes and found that average BMI at diabetes diagnosis was 31.83 in men and 33.69 in women. This difference was most noticeable at younger ages, the researchers said.
The study was published online in the Journal Diabetologia.
The findings confirm the hypothesis that men have to gain less weight to develop diabetes, according to study leader Professor Naveed Sattar, of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow.
Fat distribution may explain why men develop diabetes with less weight gain than women. Men tend to have more fat in their abdominal regions and in their liver than women, while women have greater amounts of "safe" subcutaneous (beneath the skin) fat than men.
"It is worrying that men develop type 2 diabetes at a higher rate than their female counterparts. Research like this will help us understand reasons why and provide greater insight into what we can do to improve prevention of type 2 diabetes," Dr Victoria King, head of research at Diabetes UK, said in a university news release.
(HealthDay, October 2011)