Aims: To compare body composition in adolescent girls with Type 1 diabetes with healthy controls.
Research design and methods: In this population-based study, body composition was examined, using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and skinfold measurements, in 18 adolescent post-menarcheal females, 16-19 years of age, with Type 1 diabetes since childhood in comparison to age-matched healthy control subjects.
Results: Body mass index was 2.7 kg/m2 higher in diabetic patients (26.3 +/- 2.6 vs. 23.6 +/- 3.8; P < 0.05). The overweight consisted almost entirely of increased fat mass, as evaluated by both skinfold measurements and DXA. Bone mineral density did not differ between the two groups. In diabetic females, the distribution of the fat mass was increased in the upper part of the body. The fat distribution, expressed as the abdominal-to-leg ratio, was significantly correlated to glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) (r = 0.69; P < 0.005), daily dosage of insulin expressed per kilogram body weight (r = 0.78; P < 0.0005) and total cholesterol (r = 0.60; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: The observed overweight in adolescent females with Type 1 diabetes is explained by an increased fat mass. Abdominal fat accumulation was associated with poor glycaemic control, increased need for insulin and elevated blood lipids.