Shorter people are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study published today.

Each additional 10cm in height translates into a 41% smaller chance of contracting the disease in men and a 33% chance in women, according to the research in the medical journal Diabetologia.

The greater health risk in shorter individuals is likely linked to higher liver fat content, and a larger number of risk factors for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, the authors speculated.

It has also been reported that insulin sensitivity and the functioning of special cells in the pancreas that secrete the hormone are better in taller people.

The study draws from a detailed medical survey of more than 16,600 women and nearly 11,000 men, aged 40 to 65, in Potsdam, Germany from 1994 to 1998.

"These observations corroborate that height is a useful predictive marker for diabetes risk," the authors concluded.

People with diabetes have excessively high blood glucose, or blood sugar, which comes from food.

Some 420m people around the world today suffer from diabetes, with the number expected to rise to 629m by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Currently, the disease is divided into two sub-types.

With type-1, which is generally diagnosed in childhood and accounting for about 10% of cases, the body simply does not make insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.

For type-2, the body makes some insulin but not enough, which means glucose stays in the blood.

This form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, heart disease or stroke. Acute cases may also require limb amputations.