It’s long been established that having too low of a body weight carries an increased risk of death in people with type 1 diabetes. But in a new study, Swedish researchers found that this risk may only apply to some people, and that being overweight or obese carries unique dangers in people with the condition.
Published in the journal Diabetes Care, the study followed over 26,000 people with type 1 diabetes who received their diagnosis between 1998 and 2012. The average age of participants during the study’s median 10.9-year follow-up period was 33.
As noted in a Healio article on the study, the researchers found an overall “J-shaped” association between body-mass index (BMI) and risk of death, meaning that the risk of death was elevated at the lower end of the body weight spectrum, but much greater at the higher end.
But after excluding smokers, people with poor diabetes control, and people in the study for only a short period, the researchers found that there was no increased risk in death for participants with a BMI below 25, at the lower end of the weight range.
The risk of a major cardiovascular event such as a heart attack, as well as death from cardiovascular causes and overall death, was highest in obese participants, followed by overweight and then normal-weight participants.
The associations between body weight and these outcomes were much stronger in men than in women, the researchers found.
“A low weight among otherwise healthy patients with type 1 diabetes does not imply an increased mortality risk,” the researchers concluded. “Our results support health-care professionals to encourage patients with type 1 diabetes to maintain a lower BMI through lifestyle changes, if they can, to further lessen their risk of vascular complications.”
Want to learn more about recent Type 1 diabetes research? Read “Reversing Type 1 Diabetes: New Research From Boston Children’s Hospital,” “Can a Very Low-Carb-Diet Help People With Type 1 Diabetes?” and “Type 1 Diabetes Research: What’s New?”
A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree in government from Harvard University. He writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.