Type 1 diabetic youth often overweight: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children and youth with type 1 diabetes are more likely to be overweight than their counterparts without type 1 diabetes, researchers have found.
Ties between type 2 diabetes and excess weight are well documented, but are less clear in type 1 diabetes, which affects less than 10% of people with diabetes but is more common in children and young people, the researchers explain.
"Traditional teaching in the past has been that youth with type 1 diabetes often present at diagnosis having lost weight or underweight," Dr. Lenna L. Liu, from Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute told Reuters Health. "However, with the rise in childhood obesity, even some youth with type 1 diabetes may be overweight at diagnosis and/or afterwards."
Liu and a multicenter team of researchers analyzed the impact of the childhood obesity epidemic in 3953 youth with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, and compared their rates of overweight/obesity to 7666 youth in the general population. All participants were between 3 and 19 years old.
"We know that obesity leads to type 2 diabetes, but we didn't know how children with type 1 diabetes would be affected," Liu said.
"As expected," she reported, youth with type 2 diabetes had high rates of overweight (10.4%) and obesity (79.4%). However, they also found that the prevalence of overweight, but not obesity, was also higher among youth with type 1 diabetes than among nondiabetic youth (22.1% vs 16.1%).
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's own immune cells attack the insulin-producing "beta cells" in the pancreas. By contrast, type 2 diabetes, which is more common, occurs when cells in the body lose their sensitivity to insulin.
"All youth with diabetes are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease as they get older," Liu added, "and the presence of obesity and overweight among youth with diabetes further exacerbates that risk. So managing their diabetes to maximize healthy eating and activity to prevent cardiovascular disease is key."
SOURCE: Pediatric Diabetes 2009.
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