Why Should I Help
- Over 2.3 million people in the UK are now diabetic
- Another 750,000 have diabetes, but don’t yet know it
- By the time diabetes is diagnosed, half will already have ‘complications’
Diabetes – a 21st century epidemic
Diabetes and its complications are fast becoming the UK’s No. 1 health threat, soon to outstrip smoking-related diseases, cancer and drugs. Type 2 or so-called ‘adult’ diabetes, is by far the commonest form of diabetes. It’s hugely on the increase – teenagers and even children are now getting it.
It is said that this will be the first generation where a significant number of parents will outlive their children – a chilling prediction indeed. We need to find out why. That is why 300 healthy schoolchildren are taking part in the EarlyBird Study, a 12-year project to find which factors in childhood lead to diabetes in later life.
Why is type 2 diabetes a problem?
Type 2 diabetes is more serious than people think because of its so-called ‘complications’, blindness, kidney failure, amputation, heart attack and stroke.
When does type 2 diabetes start?
The seeds of type 2 diabetes are almost certainly sown in early childhood, long before the symptoms become obvious. In some, the ‘fuse’ leading to diabetes will burn very slowly, in others, it will burn more rapidly. We need to know how to put it out before diabetes develops. Crucially, we need to know what ignites it in the first place.
Prevention is better than cure
By studying closely a single group of healthy children, as they grow and mature, doctors will have a better understanding as to why some people, and not others, develop diabetes. Importantly, it will help prevent it those who are most at risk.
EarlyBird is unique
There are many, often much larger, studies monitoring the development of children. None, however, combines objective measures of body composition and physical activity with annual fasting blood samples. These blood samples are key – they allow us to reach beyond height, weight and fat mass into the metabolic responses that define health.
Charity begins at home
If we do nothing, your own child has a 1 in 5 lifetime risk of developing diabetes with its attendant complications of blindness, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.