Diabetes rate for South Asian children in UK 13 times that of white
17 August 2009
Children of South Asian origin in the UK are 13 times more likely to
have Type 2 diabetes than white children , according to health
charity Diabetes UK.
The shocking statistic comes from the charity’s new report,
Diabetes in the UK 2009: Key statistics on diabetes. The charity
says that this 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.
“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.”
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin
or is unable to use its insulin properly. Insulin is vital for life. It
is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps glucose to enter the
cells where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and
generally live our lives.
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.
1. Diabetes UK (2009). Diabetes in the UK 2009: Key statistics on
2. Department of Health (2001). National Service Framework for
3. British Heart Foundation Statistics Database (2003). Coronary Heart
Disease Statistics 2003.
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