Children who score higher in psychosocial health measures are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes as adults compared to those with lower scores, a Finnish study reports.
The findings from this long-term study were made by scientists at the University of Helsinki, who believe they have great significance regarding the future of childrens’ health.
“A stable and supportive early environment gives good resilience against the development of obesity and diabetes,” said the researchers.
“Our interpretation is that this is because children growing up under positive family circumstances have better role models for healthy lifestyles and more support in adhering to them.”
The psychosocial scores of 3,553 children without type 1 diabetes were based on a questionnaire completed by parents.
The questionnaire including six subdomains: socioeconomic status, favourable emotional environment, parental health behaviours, absence of stressful events, self-control of the child and social adjustment of the child.
The researchers also measured the blood glucose levels of the children in 1986, at the beginning of the study, and again in 2001, 2007 and 2012.
A 21 per cent decreased rate of type 2 diabetes was observed among those with higher psychosocial scores, as well as an eight per cent decreased risk of prediabetes.
Higher psychosocial scores were also associated with greater control of blood glucose levels at each follow-up.
“It is important that the practitioner asks about the life circumstances of the patient,” said lead author Laura Pulkki-Raback, PhD. “For instance, if the patient has a stressful life situation, it is not wise to recommend major lifestyle changes as the stressful situation is ongoing.
“When meeting families with children, it is important to recognize that parents’ behaviours have an enormous effect on child behaviour. So, promoting the health of children begins with interventions directed at the parents. The younger the child, the more parents have an effect.”
The study has been published online in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

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