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September 17, 2003

Behavior, Weight and Weight Loss

Question from Fort Myers, Florida, USA:

I am a teenager who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the past six months, and since then, I've gained 30-35 pounds. When I was diagnosed I was in severe ketoacidosis and was the smallest I've been all my life (162 pounds), and now I weigh 195 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches tall. Did I gain so much weight back because I was in DKA [diabetic ketoacidosis]? What are some effective methods of shedding the excessive weight?


People with newly-diagnosed type 1 diabetes generally gain weight back when they are placed on insulin. At the time of your diagnosis, your body was starving in the face of plenty. Your body could not use the fuel you took in as foods, and when insulin was added back, the calories you lost through the urine, are now utilized. Weight loss is a common symptom of high blood sugars.

The ticket for success is to discuss your situation with your physician. It would also help if you had access to a dietitian. The basic plan would be to give the minimum amount of insulin to achieve good control. You do not want to have recurrent low sugars as this causes you to eat more calories than you would need. Exercise will also decrease your insulin needs and helps to burn off excessive calories.