New study shows association between overweight and LADA

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A new study has investigated the association between overweight/obesity and the risk of LADA, as well as how this association is affected by family history of diabetes. Overweight is a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes but its role in the development of autoimmune diabetes is yet unclear.

Rebecka Hjort, first author of the newly published article in the journal Diabetologia, is a Phd student at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet. She has used data collected in ESTRID in order to investigate these associations. The study showed an almost three-fold increased risk of LADA among persons suffering from obesity, while the risk for type 2 diabetes increased 19 times. The association between obesity and LADA was stronger among persons with low levels of GAD autoantibodies but was also prevalent among those with higher GADA levels. 

When the association between obesity and LADA was investigated in combination with family history of diabetes the risk increased even more. For LADA, a 4,5 times increased risk was seen if both obesity and family history of diabetes were present. For type 2 diabetes, the risk increased 24,5 time under the same conditions, compared to normalweight persons without a family history of diabetes. The authors argue that the results support the hypothesis that, even in the presence of autoimmunity, factors linked to insulin resistance, such as overweight, may promote the onset of diabetes.

The conclusion drawn is that, under the assumption of causality, excessive weight is a strong contributor to the development of LADA. Therefore, it is of great importance to maintain a healthy weight, especially in the presence of autoimmunity and/or family history of diabetes.