Weight Gain Might Benefit Type 1 Diabetics

For people living with type 1 diabetes, weight gain in the long term may in fact be beneficial. A new study showed a general trend that over a 20 year period, type 1 diabetics that gained weight were less likely to die from the disease.

Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes, is often diagnosed in childhood, and is characterized by an inability to control blood sugar levels, due to insufficient, or nonexistent, insulin production by the pancreas.

The study followed 655 type 1 diabetics for 20 years, averaging 28 years of age at the beginning of the study (1986). Body Mass Index (BMI), a standard measurement for body fat, was measured every two years in each participant. Over the entire study, 147 of the participants died.

For those patients whose BMI increased the most (which translated to between 10 and 55 pounds of weight gain), death was nearly one-third less likely. “Gaining a reasonable amount of weight may be a sign patients are getting enough insulin and appropriately controlling their disease, which may partly explain why those who gained weight over time had lower mortality rates,” says study author Dr. Trevor Orchard.

This finding, reasonably explained by Dr. Orchard above, nonetheless is very surprising. Many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, and the other form of diabetes, type 2, have been associated with weight gain and obesity, resulting in higher mortality. “Although weight gain in adulthood is typically associated with increased mortality, this may not be the case for those with type 1 diabetes.” concludes Dr. Orchard. Weight gain, while not recommended to be intentionally induced for type 1 diabetics, is likely a natural result of proper management of the disease while one ages, leading to a longer and healthier life.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Orchard, Trevor. Collins, Clare. ADA 68th Scientific Sessions news release. June 2008.

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