Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to investigate whether either increased weight or BMI are associated with the earlier manifestation of type 1 diabetes mellitus in children.
Methods: We evaluated anthropometric measurements in a large cohort of 9,248 patients of European extraction who were diagnosed in the years 1990-2003 in 116 pediatric clinics throughout Germany and Austria.
Results: Patients were divided into four groups according to age (0-4.9 years, 5-9.9 years, 10-14.9 years and 15-20 years). Significantly higher standard deviation scores (SDSs) for weight and BMI at diabetes onset were found for both boys and girls in the three younger age groups (up to 14.9 years of age) compared with the reference population (p<0.00001). In addition, the BMI SDS and the weight SDS were significantly higher in the 0-4.9-years age group than in all other groups (p<0.00001), and BMI SDS at onset gradually decreased with increasing age at manifestation (p<0.0001). Over the >10-year study period, there was a continuous rise in the weight-SDS and the BMI-SDS in the cohort (p<0.0001), especially in the 5-9.9-years and the 10-14.9-years age groups. Multivariate analysis revealed a significant influence of male sex and of year of manifestation on BMI SDS (p<0.0001) and demonstrated a negative association between the patients' BMI SDS and age at diagnosis, with a mean annual decrease in BMI SDS of -0.0248 (95% CI -0.0294 to -0.0202, p<0.0001).
Conclusions/interpretation: A higher BMI was associated with a younger age at diabetes onset. Increased weight gain could therefore be a risk factor for the early manifestation of type 1 diabetes.