7 May 2018

Auckland's Pasifika children at higher risk of diabetes

7:37 am on 7 May 2018

Pasifika children in Auckland have an 18 times greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes than their European peers, according to new research.

The research, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, canvassed 21 years of childhood diabetes cases at Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital - which covers the whole region.

The study's lead author, Starship paediatric endocrinologist Craig Jeffries, said the research had revealed that type 2 diabetes - barely recorded in children 20 years ago - was persistent and rising.

Dr Jeffries said the chance was greater for Pasifika children for a variety of reasons.

"We have this overwhelming obesity drive in New Zealand and a lot of other countries do, but you've still got to be a relatively specific ethnic group and within that you still have to have normally a strong family history of type-2 diabetes.

"In almost all the kids we see, they've got parents, or especially a mother who got type-2 diabetes on insulin in pregnancy. So it's almost like they're programmed metabolically ahead of time."

Craig Jeffries said, however, cases were still very rare.

A sign to raise awareness about the dangers of diabetes, a major killer in Pacific Island countries, in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Diabetes awareness sign in Rarotonga, Cook islands Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

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