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.