Researchers from the University of London have detected early warning signs of Type 2 diabetes in the blood of otherwise healthy British Asian children.
The findings are particularly important in light of the growing incidence of Type 2 diabetes worldwide, and they suggest that at least some of the causes of ethnic differences in the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes are working before adult life.
Tests revealed higher levels of some blood markers - signs that you might go on to develop Type 2 diabetes - in children from South Asian families. Black African-Caribbean children were also more likely to be more at risk than white children, but the difference was smaller.
Around three million people in the UK have diabetes. South Asian people in the UK are about three times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white Europeans.
More research needed, to help with prevention
"We know that being physically active, eating healthily and avoiding being overweight help all children to lower their long-term risks of Type 2 diabetes," said Research Leader, Professor Peter Whincup.
"But we need to do more research to find out which particular factors make Asian and African-Caribbean people more likely to develop diabetes, so that we can establish the most effective measures for preventing the disease from an early stage in life."
Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: "Although these findings need to be confirmed by studying more children, this is interesting and timely research which adds significant weight to the call for more preventative measures for Type 2 diabetes to be rolled out across the UK, and particularly to younger ethnic minority communities who are at far greater risk of this serious condition." "These measures need to be culturally sensitive, specifically tailored and introduced as quickly as possible if we are to stand any chance of curbing this growing public health problem," he added.