Ethnic differences in precursors of type 2 diabetes apparent at an early age

Apr 20, 2010

A study published in PLoS Medicine this week finds that precursors of higher risk of diabetes in South Asian and African-Caribbean adults in the UK are increased in healthy children from these ethnic groups.

Peter Whincup of St George's, University of London, and colleagues investigated whether ethnic differences in precursors could also be seen in 9 and 10 year old children in the United Kingdom. South Asian adults in the UK have approximately three times the risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes compared with the white European UK population, while people of African-Caribbean origin in the UK have roughly a two-fold greater risk. Levels of precursors of (particularly markers of blood glucose and insulin levels) in children mirror the disparities in adult diabetes risk.

The researchers enrolled nearly 5,000 9 or 10 year-old children from schools in London, Leicester and Birmingham. Measuring and weighing the children they determined their body fat levels, taking blood samples to measure known precursors of diabetes including blood glucose levels, fasting insulin, and blood triglyceride, C-reactive protein, and HDL-cholesterol levels. Each child's parents (or guardians) were asked to categorise the child's ethnicity, using a classification similar to the UK census method. The researchers observed that the ethnic differences in patterns of diabetes precursors in these healthy children matched those in the adult population. Although the findings need to be confirmed in other population samples, the researchers suggest that the ethnic differences in type 2 diabetes risk initially observed in immigrants to the UK persist in UK-born South Asian and African-Caribbean communities.

The researchers warn that these findings are particularly important in the light of the growing worldwide problem of type 2 diabetes. They suggest that at least some of the causes of ethnic differences in type 2 diabetes risk are operating before adult life and that there may be important opportunities for early prevention of type 2 diabetes. Many key measures to prevent diabetes - encouraging physical activity, improving nutrition and diet, and preventing obesity - are desirable for all children. However, further research is needed to identify the factors responsible for the early emergence of ethnic differences in diabetes risk, and to establish the best approaches to early prevention of type 2 in ethnic groups at particularly high risk.

Explore further: Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

More information: Whincup PH, Nightingale CM, Owen CG, Rudnicka AR, Gibb I, et al. (2010) Early Emergence of Ethnic Differences in Type 2 Diabetes Precursors in the UK: The Child Heart and Health Study in England (CHASE Study). PLoS Med 7(4): e1000263. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000263

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ethnic background may be associated with diabetes risk

Oct 06, 2009

Fat and muscle mass, as potentially determined by a person's ethnic background, may contribute to diabetes risk, according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & ...

Dramatic increase of Type 1 diabetes in under fives

Mar 16, 2007

Researchers are calling for more work in to the reasons behind a big increase of young children with Type 1 diabetes. A new study, led by Bristol University, has discovered that the number of children under five-years-old ...

Caesarean babies more likely to develop diabetes

Aug 26, 2008

Babies delivered by Caesarean section have a 20 per cent higher risk than normal deliveries of developing the most common type of diabetes in childhood, according to a study led by Queen's University Belfast.

Recommended for you

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

10 hours ago

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

10 hours ago

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

22 hours ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.