Dietary factors in the development of type 1 diabetes

Pediatr Diabetes. 2016 Jul;17 Suppl 22:49-55. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12341.


There are several indicators concerning the putative importance of dietary factors during the fetal period lactation, infancy and childhood in the etiology of type 1 diabetes. Among foods, cow's milk consumption has been associated with an increased risk of preclinical and/or clinical type 1 diabetes and sugars with a progression from preclinical to clinical disease. Breast milk, on the other hand, may be protective. Processed foods may be related to a greater risk of type 1 diabetes because they contain higher amounts of advanced glycation end-products. Nitrites or N-nitroso compounds in processed meat products could increase the risk of this disease. Among nutrients, n-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and E, and zinc may protect from preclinical and/or clinical type 1 diabetes. The microbial composition of foods or food's other effects on gut microbiota are receiving increasing attention, also due to their putative role in the development of type 1 diabetes. Still the number of prospective studies in this research field is limited and most of the findings remain to be replicated.

Keywords: children; diet; infant feeding; islet autoimmunity; nutrition; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology*
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Milk / adverse effects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena