Childhood Obesity Tied to Increased Risk of Diabetes Interview with:

Yuxia Wei | PhD Student Unit of Epidemiology Institute of Environmental Medicine Karolinska Institutet Stockholm | Sweden

Yuxia Wei

Yuxia Wei PhD Student
Unit of Epidemiology
Institute of Environmental Medicine
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm | Sweden What is the background for this study?

Response: Diabetes is traditionally known for having two types (type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes). However, it is becoming increasingly clear that diabetes is much more complex than this traditional classification. Several attempts have been made to address this heterogeneity and in 2018, a  Swedish ground-breaking study proposed that there are five distinct subtypes of diabetes in adults. They have been replicated in different populations and it has been shown that there are differences between the subtypes in terms of genetics and risks of complications. Another way of elucidating the relevance of these subtypes is to investigate whether the influence of known risk factors for diabetes is different on different subtypes. Our study is one of the first attempts to address this. We used a study design known as Mendelian randomization, to investigate the influence of childhood obesity on these diabetes subtypes that typically occur after age 35. This work was a collaboration between Karolinska institutet in Stockholm, University of Bristol in the UK and Sun Yat-Sen University in China. What are the main findings?

Response:  The main finding is that being obese in childhood will increase risks of developing all forms of diabetes in later life, except for the mild age-related subtype. We find an increased risk of autoimmune diabetes in adults. We also find an increased risk of the subtypes that are traditionally classified as type 2 diabetes, including the subtype classified as being mainly insulin deficient and the subtype classified as being primarily insulin resistant. These are important findings considering that childhood obesity is prevalent and increasing globally. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings tell us that children who are bigger than the average have a higher risk of developing diabetes when they become adults. Essentially, we see that childhood obesity is a risk factor for almost the whole spectrum of adult-onset diabetes, except for the milder form that occurs at higher ages. This emphasizes how important it is to prevent obesity in children since it may have long-lasting effects on their future health. What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: It is known that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or at least postponed by adhering to healthy lifestyles including keeping a normal body weight, avoiding smoking, and increasing physical activity. It remains to be investigated whether this applies to all subtypes of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, autoimmune diabetes, which is traditionally considered as a disease occurring in children, in fact occurs more often in adults than in children. It remains to be explored if and how autoimmune diabetes in adults (including adult-onset type 1 diabetes and latent autoimmune diabetes in adults) can be prevented

We don’t have any disclosure.


Wei, Y., Richardson, T.G., Zhan, Y. et al. Childhood adiposity and novel subtypes of adult-onset diabetes: a Mendelian randomisation and genome-wide genetic correlation study. Diabetologia (2023).

The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.



Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Marie Benz