Type 2 diabetes risk much higher for Brits of South Asian and African descent

Britons of South Asia, African and African Caribbean descent are at much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those of European heritage, according to new research.
The Southall and Brent Revisited (Sabre) study, which tracked 5,000 middle-aged men and women in London for more than 20 years, found that twice as many people of South Asia, African and African Caribbean backgrounds had received a diabetes diagnosis by the age of 80 compared with Europeans of the same age.
According to the researchers from Imperial College London, this suggests that type 2 diabetes will affect approximately half of all South Asians, Africans and African Caribbeans in Britain by age 80 compared with just one in five (20 per cent) of European descent.
The study also revealed that mean of South Asian origin were given their diagnosis five years earlier on average than those from other backgrounds, putting them at even greater risk of complications.
In an effort to understand the reasons behind the large difference in diabetes risk between the different ethnic groups, lead researcher Dr Nish Chaturvedi and colleagues looked at a number of risk factors across the ethnicities.
However, they said that neither family history nor genetics could explain this difference, while fat around the trunk or middle of the body in mid-life together with increased insulin resistance the waist could explain somen, but not all of the increased risk among Britain’s ethnic minorities.
“There is something else that puts them at higher risk and we’re not sure what that is,” Chaturvedi said.
Fellow researcher Dr Therese Tillin said the results highlight “the importance of early diagnosis and careful management,” with Diabetes UK adding that people from these communities should be screened for type 2 diabetes from the age of 25, rather than 40.
The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and British Heart Foundation and published in the journal Diabetes Care.

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