Carbohydrate Counting in Children and Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes

Nutrients. 2018 Jan 22;10(1):109. doi: 10.3390/nu10010109.


Carbohydrate counting (CC) is a meal-planning tool for patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) treated with a basal bolus insulin regimen by means of multiple daily injections or continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion. It is based on an awareness of foods that contain carbohydrates and their effect on blood glucose. The bolus insulin dose needed is obtained from the total amount of carbohydrates consumed at each meal and the insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio. Evidence suggests that CC may have positive effects on metabolic control and on reducing glycosylated haemoglobin concentration (HbA1c). Moreover, CC might reduce the frequency of hypoglycaemia. In addition, with CC the flexibility of meals and snacks allows children and teenagers to manage their T1D more effectively within their own lifestyles. CC and the bolus calculator can have possible beneficial effects in improving post-meal glucose, with a higher percentage of values within the target. Moreover, CC might be integrated with the counting of fat and protein to more accurately calculate the insulin bolus. In conclusion, in children and adolescents with T1D, CC may have a positive effect on metabolic control, might reduce hypoglycaemia events, improves quality of life, and seems to do so without influencing body mass index; however, more high-quality clinical trials are needed to confirm this positive impact.

Keywords: carbohydrate counting; glycosylated haemoglobin; hypoglycaemia; insulin; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted*
  • Diet, Diabetic*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / prevention & control
  • Hypoglycemia / prevention & control
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Portion Size*
  • Quality of Life


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human