Does Obesity Increase the Risk for Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes usually affects children and occurs due to damage of the islet cells of the pancreas by antibodies. The islet cells secrete insulin; damage to the cells results in decreased insulin secretion and diabetes. These patients are treated by replacing insulin via injections.
The number of new cases of type 1 diabetes has been on the rise in the last few years. Understanding the possible factors that may have led to this increase could help to control the development of diabetes in children.
The risk for type 1 diabetes has a genetic basis. People with two genetic variations HLA-DQ A1*05:01-B1*02:01 and the A1*03:01-B1*03:02 on chromosome 6 are at a higher risk for developing type 1 diabetes. Some recent studies however indicate that children with even low-to-moderate risk HLA genotypes are now developing type 1 diabetes. It is possible that some environmental factors like sedentary lifestyle and an increase in body mass contribute to developing type 1 diabetes in these patients.
A study was conducted in Sweden to analyze if there was any association between a person's genes and an increase in body mass index (BMI) in the development of type 1 diabetes.
An important finding of the study was that, three genotype that were normally associated with moderate or low risk for type 1 diabetes had more individuals with type 1 diabetes who were overweight or obese.
In the study, an increase in BMI did not increase the risk for diabetes in individuals who had high-risk genes for type 1 diabetes. One reason for this may be that these children develop diabetes at a younger age.
The study also found that children carrying the A1*03:01-B1*03:02 haplotype have a more aggressive disease process than carriers of the A1*05:01-B1*02:01/A1*05:01-B1*02:01 genotype.
The study concluded that an increase in BMI is probably an important factor in the development of type 1 diabetes in children who are genetically not at very high risk for developing the condition. This study thus reiterates the urgent need to control childhood obesity and reduce the disease burden in the society.
1. Low risk HLA-DQ and increased body mass index in newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes children in the Better Diabetes Diagnosis study in Sweden; Carlsson et al; International Journal of Obesity 2012