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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Obesity Accelerates Risk for Health Complications in Young Adults with Type 1 Diabetes

Obesity in children and young adults with Type 1 diabetes can lead to early cardiovascular complications in as few as 10 years following diabetes diagnosis, according to new research from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Dr. Anna Kahkoska, a recent doctoral graduate in nutrition, is lead author of the paper, “Longitudinal phenotypes of Type 1 diabetes in youth based on weight and glycemia and their association with complications,” published July 10 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Other co-authors from the Gillings School include Dr. Crystal Nguyen and faculty members Dr. Michael Kosorok, Dr. Linda Adair, Dr. Kyle Burger and Dr. Allison Aiello.

Unlike Type 2 diabetes, Type 1 diabetes often presents in childhood and typically is not associated with being overweight. However, recent data show a rise in the prevalence of obesity among young people with Type 1 diabetes. Excess body weight has been linked with a higher risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease.

In addition, an individual may be particularly impacted by complications based on their level of blood glucose control. For this reason, the research team took an approach that allowed them to consider how both weight status and glycemic control throughout childhood and young adulthood are associated with the emergence of diabetes complications.

“If you cluster the population based on their measures of body weight and level of glucose control over time, you find several significant patterns that tend to follow in the first 10 years after diagnosis,” Dr. Kahkoska says. “The ultimate vision is that we could identify people in the highest risk group much earlier in their disease and target interventions to them.”

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