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Diabet Med. 2011 Jan;28(1):10-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2010.03160.x.

Association between childhood obesity and subsequent Type 1 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.



To review and synthesize the published evidence on the possible association between childhood obesity and the subsequent risk of Type 1 diabetes.


The PubMed database was systematically searched for studies using childhood obesity, BMI or %weight-for-height as the exposure variable and subsequent Type 1 diabetes as the outcome. Studies were only included if assessment of obesity preceded the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.


Eight case-control studies and one cohort study were included, comprising a total of 2658 cases. Of these nine studies, seven reported a significant association between childhood obesity, BMI or %weight-for-height and increased risk for Type 1 diabetes. Meta-analysis of the four studies that reported childhood obesity as a categorical exposure produced a pooled odds ratio of 2.03 (95% CI 1.46-2.80) for subsequent Type 1 diabetes; however, in those studies, age at obesity assessment varied from age 1 to 12 years. A dose-response relationship was supported by a continuous association between childhood BMI and subsequent Type 1 diabetes in a meta-analysis of five studies (pooled odds ratio 1.25 (95%CI 1.04-1.51) per 1 sd higher BMI).


There is overall evidence for an association between childhood obesity, or higher BMI, and increased risk of subsequent Type 1 diabetes. Several theories have been proposed for a causal relationship. Reduction in Type 1 diabetes should be considered as a potential additional benefit of preventing childhood obesity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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