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Half of black people could get diabetes by age 80

AT RISK:People from South Asia, Caribbean and African backgrounds

HALF OF all people of South Asian, African and African Caribbean descent will develop Type 2 diabetes by age 80, a new study warns.

Research from the Southall and Brent REvisited (SABRE) large-scale population study showed that by age 80, twice as many British South Asian, African and African Caribbean men and women had developed diabetes compared with Europeans of the same age.

Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to produce insulin that regulates sugar levels in the blood, resulting in there being too much blood glucose levels.

‘Approximately half of all South Asians, Africans and African Caribbeans in the UK will develop the disease by age 80 compared with only one in five of European descent,’ said SABRE, whose study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and British Heart Foundation.

Researchers spent 20 years following nearly 5000 middle-aged Londoners of European, South Asian, African and African Caribbean descent.

The study, which looked at people who did not have type 2 diabetes at the start of research, followed participants aged 40 to 69 from 1988 onwards, and recorded those that developed the disease.

The team found that while African, African Caribbeans and Europeans tend to be diagnosed at around the same age, 66 to 67 years, South Asian men were five years younger on average when diabetes was diagnosed, meaning they are at even greater risk of complications.

By tracking the development of diabetes in the SABRE study group, researchers led by Nish Chaturvedi at Imperial College London, also highlighted risk factors for developing diabetes.

The team discounted family history but found South Asian, African and African Caribbean women in the study were more at risk than British European women because of having fat around their hips in mid-life.

However, this only explained part of the increased risk in South Asian, African and African Caribbean men and suggested that other not yet known factors may also play a part, researchers said.

Dr Hélène Wilson, research advisor at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “This study suggests the higher rate of diabetes – a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes – in some South Asian and African Caribbean women is due to increased levels of obesity, particularly the build-up of fat around the waist, and higher resistance to insulin, which helps the body process sugar.

“This is a very encouraging discovery because it underlines the fact that controlling your weight by eating well and getting active can have a significant protective effect on your health.”

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