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Characterizing the Weight-Glycemia Phenotypes of Type 1 Diabetes in Youth and Young Adulthood


Kahkoska, Anna R.; Nguyen, Crystal T.; Jiang, Xiaotong; Adair, Linda S.; Agarwal, Shivani; Aiello, Allison E.; Burger, Kyle S.; Buse, John B.; Dabelea, Dana; & Dolan, Lawrence M., et al. (2020). Characterizing the Weight-Glycemia Phenotypes of Type 1 Diabetes in Youth and Young Adulthood. BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 8(1), e000886. PMCID: PMC7039605


INTRODUCTION: Individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) present with diverse body weight status and degrees of glycemic control, which may warrant different treatment approaches. We sought to identify subgroups sharing phenotypes based on both weight and glycemia and compare characteristics across subgroups.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Participants with T1D in the SEARCH study cohort (n=1817, 6.0-30.4 years) were seen at a follow-up visit >5 years after diagnosis. Hierarchical agglomerative clustering was used to group participants based on five measures summarizing the joint distribution of body mass index z-score (BMIz) and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) which were estimated by reinforcement learning tree predictions from 28 covariates. Interpretation of cluster weight status and glycemic control was based on mean BMIz and HbA1c, respectively.
RESULTS: The sample was 49.5% female and 55.5% non-Hispanic white (NHW); mean±SD age=17.6±4.5 years, T1D duration=7.8±1.9 years, BMIz=0.61±0.94, and HbA1c=76±21 mmol/mol (9.1±1.9)%. Six weight-glycemia clusters were identified, including four normal weight, one overweight, and one subgroup with obesity. No cluster had a mean HbA1c <58 mmol/mol (7.5%). Cluster 1 (34.0%) was normal weight with the lowest HbA1c and comprised 85% NHW participants with the highest socioeconomic position, insulin pump use, dietary quality, and physical activity. Subgroups with very poor glycemic control (ie, ≥108 mmol/mol (≥12.0%); cluster 4, 4.4%, and cluster 5, 7.5%) and obesity (cluster 6, 15.4%) had a lower proportion of NHW youth, lower socioeconomic position, and reported decreased pump use and poorer health behaviors (overall p<0.01). The overweight subgroup with very poor glycemic control (cluster 5) showed the highest lipids and blood pressure (p<0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: There are distinct subgroups of youth and young adults with T1D that share weight-glycemia phenotypes. Subgroups may benefit from tailored interventions addressing differences in clinical care, health behaviors, and underlying health inequity.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care


Kahkoska, Anna R.
Nguyen, Crystal T.
Jiang, Xiaotong
Adair, Linda S.
Agarwal, Shivani
Aiello, Allison E.
Burger, Kyle S.
Buse, John B.
Dabelea, Dana
Dolan, Lawrence M.
Imperatore, Giuseppina
Lawrence, Jean Marie
Marcovina, Santica
Pihoker, Catherine
Reboussin, Beth A.
Sauder, Katherine A.
Kosorok, Michael R.
Mayer-Davis, Elizabeth J.




United States of America


South Carolina