Aims: To review and synthesize the published evidence on the possible association between childhood obesity and the subsequent risk of Type 1 diabetes.
Methods: The PubMed database was systematically searched for studies using childhood obesity, BMI or %weight-for-height as the exposure variable and subsequent Type 1 diabetes as the outcome. Studies were only included if assessment of obesity preceded the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.
Results: Eight case-control studies and one cohort study were included, comprising a total of 2658 cases. Of these nine studies, seven reported a significant association between childhood obesity, BMI or %weight-for-height and increased risk for Type 1 diabetes. Meta-analysis of the four studies that reported childhood obesity as a categorical exposure produced a pooled odds ratio of 2.03 (95% CI 1.46-2.80) for subsequent Type 1 diabetes; however, in those studies, age at obesity assessment varied from age 1 to 12 years. A dose-response relationship was supported by a continuous association between childhood BMI and subsequent Type 1 diabetes in a meta-analysis of five studies (pooled odds ratio 1.25 (95%CI 1.04-1.51) per 1 sd higher BMI).
Conclusion: There is overall evidence for an association between childhood obesity, or higher BMI, and increased risk of subsequent Type 1 diabetes. Several theories have been proposed for a causal relationship. Reduction in Type 1 diabetes should be considered as a potential additional benefit of preventing childhood obesity.
© 2010 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine © 2010 Diabetes UK.