THURSDAY, July 2, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Children with type 1 diabetes are more likely to be overweight than those without the disease, increasing their risk of serious health complications, researchers say.
The finding is from a major study that explored the weight problems faced by U.S. youngsters with type 1 diabetes, a less common form of the disease that usually shows up in childhood or in young adults. The study, part of the "Search for Diabetes in Youth Study Group," was reported online in the journal Pediatric Diabetes.
"The links between type 2 diabetes and excess weight are well documented, but are less clear in type 1," said lead researcher Dr. Lenna Liu of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Hospital, in a news release from the journal's publisher.
"Knowing the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and young people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes is very important as it helps us to identify those individuals -- by age, gender or race/ethnicity -- who face the greatest risk of the clinical complications associated with excess weight," Liu added.
The researchers examined data from nearly 4,000 diabetic and more than 7,500 non-diabetic children and young people aged 3 to 19. The diabetic patients were evenly split between boys and girls and the group included various ethnic groups.
The study findings showed that, overall, approximately one in eight, or 13 percent, of type 1 diabetes patients were obese. Among black type 1 diabetes patients, 20 percent were obese, while roughly 17 percent of Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander patients were obese. White patients with type 1 diabetes had the lowest rate of obesity at 11 percent.
In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks and destroys certain cells in the pancreas, an organ behind the stomach. Obese patients are at increased risk for heart disease and other serious complications.
For more on diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.