Worldwide Rise in Type 1 Diabetes Could Be Linked to Obesity


Type 1 diabetes is rising globally, and a leading hypothesis suggests that reduced childhood exposure to infections may disrupt immune system balance. Some researchers also propose a potential role for obesity, suggesting it could prime insulin-producing cells for failure.

As obesity rises in the worldwide population, so does its effect on health, which includes joint damage, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and its complications. However, while it’s expected that type 2 diabetes is on the rise, the variant that’s linked to obesity, type 1 diabetes, the autoimmune disease with childhood onset, is on the global rise as well.

Around the globe, type 1 diabetes is on the rise, at 3% to 5% per year. As such, this rise is a mystery. The global increase began in the 1950s and accelerated in the 1980s, but it is happening too fast to be solely due to genetic changes. An environmental factor is driving the increase.

There could be many culprits, but one of the best-elaborated hypotheses suggests that a lack of exposure to infections during childhood keeps the various components of the immune system from knowing how to hold themselves in balance. It’s already a fact that a too clean childhood can lead to allergies later in life.

There are even some researchers who suggest that obesity may even play a role in it. If a child is obese to begin with, that could prime the insulin-producing cells for failure, resulting in an autoimmune attack pushing them over the edge. If this is the case, since 36% of adults in the US are obese, it’s just going to get worse, as the trend is not reversing.

According to John Hopkins researchers, by 2048, every adult in the USA will be overweight, if the current trend continues.

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