Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

Child/Adolescent Health

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Low-dose insulin does not affect weight or physical development of children at risk for developing type 1 diabetes

A low-dose insulin treatment over 2 years does not affect the weight, body mass index (BMI), or physical development of children and adolescents at risk for developing type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, according to a study supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS00063). The study did not find that insulin, at the low dose that was used, either promotes or protects against weight gain.

Harvard Medical School researcher Erinn T. Rhodes, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues compared differences in weight change, BMI, and physical development between two groups of predominantly white children and adolescents (aged 4 to 19) who had more than a 50-percent risk of developing type 1 diabetes within 5 years. They randomized 100 children and adolescents into 2 groups. The first group (55 children) received injections of low-dose insulin twice daily and an annual intravenous insulin infusion. The second group (45 children) were closely monitored and did not receive either insulin or a placebo.

The researchers found no differences over 2 years between the 2 groups for changes in weight, height, BMI, or Tanner stage (child's stage of growth and development). One explanation for the lack of change is that the central nervous system effects of insulin (weight loss) and peripheral nervous system effects (weight gain) may be mutually offset because of the low dose of insulin used in the study. More research is needed to validate these findings in other pediatric groups.

See "Effect of low-dose insulin treatment on body weight and physical development in children and adolescents at risk for type 1 diabetes," by Dr. Rhodes, Joseph I. Wolfsdorf, M.B., B.Ch., David D. Cuthbertson, M.S., and others in the August 2005 Diabetes Care 28(8), pp. 1948-1953.

Return to Contents
Proceed to Next Article

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care