Nutrition and Obesity in the Pathogenesis of Youth-Onset Type 1 Diabetes and Its Complications

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021 Mar 22;12:622901. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2021.622901. eCollection 2021.


Since the 1980s, there has been a dramatic rise in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in pediatric populations, in large part driven by sedentary lifestyles and changing dietary patterns with more processed foods. In parallel with the rise in pediatric obesity in the general population, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased among children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Adiposity has been implicated in a variety of mechanisms both potentiating the risk for type 1 diabetes as well as exacerbating long-term complications, particularly cardiovascular disease. Treatment options targeting the unique needs of obese pediatric patients, both before and after diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, are limited. In this review, we discuss the history of the epidemiology of the obesity epidemic in the context of pediatric type 1 diabetes, highlight the possible role of obesity in type 1 diabetes pathogenesis and review the concept of "double diabetes". The impact of obesity at and after diagnosis will be discussed, including noted differences in clinical and biochemical markers, lipid abnormalities, and long-term cardiovascular complications. Finally, we will review the existing literature on pharmacologic and nutritional interventions as potential treatment strategies for youth with coexisting type 1 diabetes and obesity.

Keywords: cardiovascular complications; double diabetes; nutrition; obesity; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*