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UK’s South Asian children 13 times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes

Children of South Asian origin in the UK are 13 times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes than White children.

The statistic is from the charity’s new report, Diabetes in the UK 2009: Key statistics on diabetes.

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.

“Type 2 diabetes is serious. It can lead to complications including heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, blindness and amputation. It is a genetic condition but many cases are preventable through lifestyle changes, so Diabetes UK is working hard to raise awareness of the risk factors and symptoms to give people the best possible chance of reducing their risk of developing it.

“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.”

Risks and symptoms

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.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include increased thirst, going to the loo (for a wee) all the time – especially at night, extreme tiredness, blurred vision, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, and slow healing of wounds.

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