Diabetics are often advised to shed those extra pounds, however a new study suggests that weight gain can actually help people with type 1 diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health examines 655 patients with type 1 diabetes for 20 years and found that patients who gained weight over time were less likely to die.
Participants with an average age of 28 when entering the study and 44 at its completion were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1980.
The team measured patients' body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference and assessed BMI every two years during the study period and over the course of the study, 147 deaths occurred.
The findings revealed that patients whose BMI increased the most during the study (2 to 11 points or about 10 to 55 pounds) were one-third less likely to die than those who had smaller increases in BMI, indicating that weight gain may protect people with type 1 diabetes from premature death.
"Although weight gain in adulthood is typically associated with increased mortality, this may not be the case for those with type 1 diabetes," said Dr Trevor Orchard, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
"Gaining a reasonable amount of weight may be a sign patients are getting enough insulin and appropriately controlling their disease, which may partly explain why those who gained weight over time had lower mortality rates," said Orchard, who also is professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
"These results are not a firm recommendation to people with type 1 diabetes to put on weight, but it does raise the possibility that weight recommendations in type 1 diabetes may be somewhat different," added Baqiyyah Conway, M.P.H., lead author of the abstract.
The study was presented at the 68th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in San Francisco.