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UK’s South Asian children more likely to have diabetes

Children of South Asian origin in the UK are 13 times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes than white children, leading health charity Diabetes UK reveals today.

The shocking statistic is from the charity's new report, Diabetes in the UK 2009: Key statistics on diabetes. It is particularly worrying as type 2 diabetes is usually only found in South Asian adults who are over 25.

Type 2 diabetes is up to six times more common in people of South Asian descent and those who have diabetes are three times more likely to have heart disease – just one of the devastating complications of diabetes.

Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: "It is very worrying that any child is developing type 2 diabetes as it is usually only found in adults, but it is particularly alarming that South Asian children are at such high risk.

"South Asian people are more likely to develop the condition and factors such as eating traditional foods high in salt and fat alongside Western 'fast foods' compound their risk.

"Awareness of diabetes must be increased among agencies that interact with people from South Asian communities at grass roots level. Information about the condition should be tailored where necessary and made available in formats that are accessible. We must prevent generations of children needlessly facing a lifetime of ill health."

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include having a large waist or being overweight; being of Black or South Asian origin; having a family history of the condition; and being over 40 years old, or over 25 if you're Black or South Asian.

Type 2 diabetes can be undetected for 10 years or more and around half of people already have complications by the time they are diagnosed. At risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, except those of South Asian origin who are at risk at 35 inches or more, and 31.5 inches or more for all women.

Diabetes UK