Researchers from Germany and Austria find girls, in particular, to be more susceptible to weight gain from type 1 diabetes treatment.
It is important to note that children do not develop type 1 diabetes from being overweight. When children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, many are of too low a body weight, however, this does not prevent weight gain from occurring after diagnosis.
Weight gain can pose additional problems for most people and, for people with type 1 diabetes that are at increased risks of heart disease and other long term health complications, minimising excess weight gain is therefore particularly important.
The researchers monitored 12,774 patients with type 1 diabetes, under the age of 20 years old, to identify which factors were linked to greater risks of being overweight or obese. The research team analysed a number of factors which included gender, age at diabetes onset, duration of diabetes and type of insulin therapy.
The researchers found that whilst overall rates of being overweight or obese for youngsters with type 1 diabetes were not especially high, certain factors played a part in increasing the risk of weight gain within subgroups of the patients.
The figures showed that for all participants, 1in 8 (12.5%) under 20 year olds with type 1 diabetes were recorded as overweight and 1 in 36 (2.8%) were recorded as obese.
Females were found to be at a greater risk of weight gain than boys and other factors linked with greater weight gain included:
Diabetes onset in puberty
Longer diabetes duration
Being on intensive insulin therapy (such as multiple-daily dose or insulin pump regimens)
Higher daily insulin intake
The researchers concluded that optimising diabetes management, to produce more consistent blood glucose results could help limit weight gain. It is well worth noting that both too high and too low blood glucose levels can lead to increased fatigue and increased hunger which can both have negative effects on maintaining a healthy weight.
Reducing reliance on starchy foods, particularly refined starchy foods, such as white bread and white rice, can improve blood glucose levels and satiety, reducing the need to snack between meals.
Children and young adults that are eating well but struggling to maintain good control of blood glucose levels can benefit from attending a carbohydrate counting course. Ask your GP, diabetes consultant or diabetes specialist nurse whether they can refer you to one of these diabetes education courses.