Type 1 diabetes and body composition in youth: A systematic review

Patrizia Calella, Francesca Gallè, Gianfranco Fornelli, Giorgio Liguori, Giuliana Valerio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


An increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity was reported in youth with type 1 diabetes, likely due to the intensive insulin treatment and/or an unhealthy lifestyle. Analyses of body composition may help describe the real increase in fat mass, which contributes to the diabetes-related cardio-metabolic risk. This systematic review evaluated the current literature on body composition assessments in youth with type 1 diabetes and the potential association with cardio-metabolic, functional, or behavioural risk factors. A systematic search of literature studies reporting assessments of body composition in youth with type 1 diabetes published until April 2018 was performed following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Twenty-three articles with different study designs reported assessments of body composition. The following methods were used to assess body composition: computerized dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (n = 10), bioelectrical impedance analysis (n = 8), skinfold thickness measurement (n = 4), and air displacement plethysmography (n = 1). Higher fat mass values were found in youth with type 1 diabetes in seven of the 13 studies that included a healthy control group. Most studies investigating the association between body composition and cardio-metabolic risk factors showed that youth with higher fat mass levels had poor glycaemic control, dyslipidaemia, or higher blood pressure. Assessments of body composition may represent a useful clinical procedure to support decision-making in type 1 diabetes management. Further research is needed to standardize the assessment of body composition and develop a consensus guideline.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3211
JournalDiabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • body composition
  • fat mass
  • fat-free mass
  • systematic review
  • type 1 diabetes
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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