Type 1 Diabetes, also known as "Juvenile-onset" diabetes (due to the fact that it's often diagnosed early in life) is a life-threatening disorder characterized by the body's inability to to produce insulin, the body's primary means of regulating glucose.

What causes this disease? Can it result from eating too much candy at a young age?

2 Answers 2


The short answer is that Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, a disease that is caused by the body's own immune system attacking and destroying insulin-producing cells, called beta cells (which are located in the islets of Langerhans).1

What, exactly, kicks off this autoimmune response is as yet unclear. Some options are genes, and different components of the environment, like viruses, and certain chemicals and drugs.

According to diabetes professional @darthskeptic:

That candy won't give you diabetes.

Unless it's molded into a blade, hardened, sharpened, then used to remove your pancreas.

(6 Sep 2014)

See Is there evidence that eating too much sugar can increase the risk of diabetes? for info on Type 2 Diabetes.

1 Funny what I could have told you as a five-year-old



Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar (glucose) level to become too high.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) – where the pancreas doesn't produce any insulin (10% of all diabetes, often inherited/genetic)
  • Type 2 – where the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don't react to insulin

It's very important to be diagnosed as soon as possible, as it can get progressively worse if left untreated.

Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age (usually before age of 40), particularly in childhood (that's why it's called juvenile).

Causes of type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition which arise from an autoimmune disease or virus infection2002 and as a result of the body's pancreas is unable to produce insulin to be converted into energy and without insulin your body will break down its own fat and muscle, resulting in weight loss. In other words glucose can't be moved out of your bloodstream into your cells.

The main cause of type 1 diabetes is unknownWHO. However a number of theories explains that cause may be one of the following:

  • genetic susceptibility,

    Balance between regulatory and effector T cells determines disease risk, timing of disease activation, and disease tempo2010.

  • a diabetogenic trigger (such as virus infection2002),

    Evidence is emerging that insulin-producing beta cells are highly susceptible to acute infection by Coxsackie virus if their production of interferon is inhibited, resulting in diabetes. Coxsackie B viruses (CVBs) have been implicated in human diabetes and can induce diabetes in animal models, which provides a strong basis for virus involvementNature

    This relationship is currently being studied further.

  • environmental2007 (such as exposure to an antigen2005).

    Other factors possibly playing a role in modifying the development of the disease are vaccinations, psychological stress and climatological factors.

    It may partly explain why the disease incidence increased has so much in the last three decades despite markedly improved hygiene and health care standards.2007

Read more:

  • That article in Polish (2007, which has only once been cited since it's been published) doesn't look very reliable to me. Can you find any other sources that point to vaccinations, psychological stress and/or climate as causes of DM type 1?
    – YviDe
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 6:33
  • I see many papers that point to the Coxsackie B virus may contribute to T1D. Has there been a test created to diagnose that cause of T1D? Is it an IgG test for the Coxsackie B virus?
    – Lilibete
    Commented Mar 8, 2020 at 12:32

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