Background/Aims: The variation in incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) worldwide is genetically based. However, its increasing incidence is environmentally determined. Our aim was to describe the role of nutritional habits and of gene-nutrient interactions in the rising incidence of TID. Methods: We did an ecological study in the 37 world areas were a 3% yearly increase of T1D incidence had been reported, and we calculated through the FAO’s Food Balance Sheets the per caput daily supply of milk, meat and cereals from 1961 to 2000 and its correlation with the TID incidence. Results: The supply of milk and cereals remained almost unchanged, whereas that of meat increased by over 31%. The absolute mean TID increase (number of cases per 100,000 per year) was + 0.32. A significant positive correlation with supply of milk was present from 1961 to 2000, while that with meat and cereals became significant in 1983 and 2000. Conclusion: Our ecological analysis indicates that nutritional factors, and in particular meat consumption, play a role in the incidence of T1D and its increase worldwide. Further experimental and case-control studies are warranted in order to assess the gene-nutrient interactions.
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