Action to prevent diabetes should begin in childhood

Action to prevent non-insulin dependent diabetes and heart disease in South Asian people may need to begin during childhood, finds a study in this week’s BMJ.

Researchers in London identified 3,415 white and 227 South Asian children aged 8 to 11 years from primary schools in 10 British towns. Blood samples were taken from 1,287 white and 73 South Asian children.

An early stage in the development of diabetes and heart disease risk is insulin resistance, when insulin levels are increased. The researchers found that South Asian children showed higher average levels of insulin and insulin resistance than white children. These ethnic differences were not associated with corresponding differences in adiposity (fatness), say the authors.

Insulin metabolism seems to be more sensitive to a given degree of adiposity among the South Asian children compared with white children, add the authors. They suggest that the prevention of insulin resistance and its consequences may need to begin during childhood.

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