Research Article

Energy expenditure in children with type I diabetes: evidence for increased thermogenesis.

BMJ 1989; 299 doi: (Published 19 August 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;299:487
  1. M. J. Müller,
  2. A. von zur Mühlen,
  3. H. U. Lautz,
  4. F. W. Schmidt,
  5. M. Daiber,
  6. P. Hürter
  1. Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Federal Republic of Germany.


    The aim of the study was to assess whether increased energy expenditure causes the negative energy balance (tissue catabolism) commonly seen in children with insulin dependent (type I) diabetes. Resting metabolic rate and thermogenesis induced by adrenaline were measured in five healthy children and 14 children with type I diabetes who were all free of clinical signs of late complications of diabetes mellitus but differed in their degree of glycaemic control (in eight glycated haemoglobin concentration was less than 10% and in the six others greater than or equal to 10%). When compared with the control subjects children with type I diabetes had normal resting metabolic rates but their urinary nitrogen excretion was significantly raised (11.5 (SD 5.4) mg/min in those with glycated haemoglobin concentration less than 10%, 11.6 (5.2) mg/min in those with concentration greater than or equal to 10% v 5.4 (3.0) mg/min in control subjects). During the infusion of adrenaline the diabetic children showed a threefold and sustained increase in thermogenesis and disproportionate increases in the work done by the heart, in lipid oxidation rate, and in plasma concentrations of glucose, free fatty acids, and ketone bodies. The increased thermogenic effect of adrenaline did not correlate with the degree of glycaemic control. Increased thermogenesis may explain the tissue wasting commonly seen in children with type I diabetes during intercurrent stress.