A study of the clinical characteristics of childhood type 2 diabetes with particular reference to ethnic differences in body composition and insulin sensitivity
Type 2 diabetes is increasingly recognised in childhood, and is more common in South Asians
and in girls in the UK. It is not clear how this increased risk relates to sex and ethnic
differences in insulin sensitivity and body composition.
The aims of this study were to describe the emergence of type 2 diabetes in UK children, and
evaluate sex and ethnic differences in healthy adolescents to understand why certain children
were more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
I undertook a cross-sectional cohort study of adiposity and insulin sensitivity in healthy White
UK and South Asian adolescents.
I confirmed that South Asian adolescents were less insulin sensitive with a trend towards
lower insulin sensitivity in girls. South Asian adolescents had significantly more body fat
which was more centrally distributed. The sex-ethnic differences in insulin sensitivity were no
longer seen on covariate analysis with body fat. South Asian children had higher leptin and
lower adiponectin concentrations consistent with their increased adiposity.
Ethnic differences in insulin sensitivity are associated with ethnic differences in body
composition. South Asian adolescents are more insulin resistant, with more body fat, which
may contribute to their increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.