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Diet of Adolescents With and Without Diabetes

Adolescents with type 1 diabetes consume fewer calories from carbohydrates but more calories from fat than adolescents without diabetes and exceed the recommended levels of fat intake, which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. The study was done to compare the dietary intake of adolescents with type 1 diabetes with that of adolescents without diabetes matched on age, sex, and year in school and to compare the diets of both groups with recommendations.

Participants were 132 adolescents with type 1 diabetes, recruited from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and 131 adolescents without diabetes ranging in age from 10.70 to 14.21 years. Dietary intake was assessed with three 24-h recall interviews with each participant and one parent. Percentage of calories from protein, carbohydrates, and total fat; amount of each type of fat; and amount of cholesterol, fiber, and sugar were calculated as averages across 3 days.

The results showed that adolescents with diabetes took in less total energy than recommended. The percentage of calories from carbohydrates and protein were within recommendations for adolescents with and without diabetes, but adolescents with diabetes exceeded the recommended fat intake. The diet of adolescents with diabetes consisted of a greater percentage of fat and protein and a smaller percentage of carbohydrates relative to adolescents without diabetes. Adolescents without diabetes consumed more sugar, while adolescents with diabetes took in more of all components of fat than adolescents without diabetes. Male subjects with diabetes had an especially high intake of saturated fat.

The results showed that adolescents with type 1 diabetes consume fewer calories from carbohydrates but more calories from fat than adolescents without diabetes and exceed the recommended levels of fat intake. These findings are of concern given the risk that type 1 diabetes poses for cardiovascular disease.

We conclude by suggesting that families of adolescents with diabetes may not have kept pace with contemporary dietary recommendations that emphasize consuming nutrients from a variety of foods rather than restricting intake of sugars and other carbohydrates. Instead, families of adolescents with diabetes may still be overly concerned with the added sugar in candy, not recognizing that the blood glucose rise in response to added sugars is equivalent to that caused by other carbohydrates.[2] They may be more concerned that the sugar in candy is going to translate into high blood glucose levels today than that the fat in potato chips will translate into cardiovascular disease in 10 years. In an attempt to avoid foods high in sugar, adolescents with diabetes and their families may perceive foods high in fat and cholesterol as more acceptable.
Diabetes Care (ISSN: 0149-5882) June 2006

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