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Obesity Fueling a New Hybrid Diabetes: Double Diabetes or Type 1 & 1/2

Dubbed “double diabetes” by some and “diabetes one-and-a-half” by others, the combination of types 1 and 2 diabetes symptoms confounds doctors attempting to

accurately diagnose and treat patients. Can it increase the risk for complications?

"We don’t really know how prevalent this is," said Francine Kaufman, head of the Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. "We are just at the vista of realizing it’s out there and trying to determine how do we get an understanding of it." Double diabetes can be difficult to recognize.

Although they don’t agree on how the process works or which name to use to describe it, clinicians and researchers are finding evidence of both diseases simultaneously in the same patients. The rise in obesity is seen as a leading culprit.

In one study, for example, researchers at the University of Washington found that a majority of children with type 2 diabetes also had signs of type 1 diabetes in the form of antibodies and T-cells, immune system markers that respond to cell damage.

"There is some indication that obesity, by putting more stress on the beta cells, may in fact make the cells more susceptible to immune attack," said Jerry Palmer, who is head of endocrinology and metabolism at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System.

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