Ground-Breaking Research Reveals Government Must Focus On Healthy Children’s Diets To Prevent Diabetes
June 15th 2012 represents a ground-breaking date in the history of diabetes research. After twelve years the EarlyBird project has made significant advances in understanding what triggers diabetes and cardio-vascular disease and the means to determine how advanced these conditions are. The Earlybird research has worryingly shown just how early in life the underlying symptoms of diabetes start, and how focus must move to early prevention through diet not simply physical activity, despite the current focus of government policy.
The EarlyBirds, a randomly selected group of 300 healthy children, have undergone an intensive series of measurements and tests from the age of five to seventeen. Since 2000, the Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, Terence Wilkin has been leading the ‘EarlyBird study’ to find which factors in childhood cause diabetes in later life.
The project aim is to help parents, teachers and decision makers in government to understand the preventable factors in childhood that are responsible for the current epidemics of diabetes and heart disease. This radical medical research will provide evidence to help academics identify the causes of diabetes.
The EarlyBird study has been distinctive in combining objective measures of physical activity and body composition, with annual fasting blood samples. These measures reach beyond simple body composition (BMI and body fat) to metabolic health (glucose control, insulin sensitivity, blood fats, cholesterol, blood pressure).
Critical to the success of the programme has been the funding of Dr Chai Patel, his Bright Future Trust and the Patel family who will have donated over GBP1million by the time the study is completed September 2013.
Dr Chai Patel, said:
“EarlyBird has developed and harnessed critical new advances in medical science in order to challenge some of the misconceptions surrounding diabetes, and its causes, and will undoubtedly lead to better medical practices being implemented to tackle the root cause of diabetes-onset.
“We are all incredibly grateful to the volunteers who have shown commitment, motivation and maturity which has been truly remarkable and would daunt most adults.
“I am proud to have been associated with a project that has massive potential to change lives across the world.”
Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, Terence Wilkin, said:
“When I was a medical student 40 years ago, type 2 diabetes was a disease of middle age and beyond. Indeed, it was referred to as ‘late onset’, ‘maturity onset’ or ‘adult onset’, and most died with it, rather than of it.
“In just one generation, a disease which afflicted only the elderly has become the fast growing chronic disorder of childhood.
“We can confidently anticipate that, with these new data, we shall improve our understanding of diabetes in childhood, become better able to detect the earliest changes and thereby improve our chances of effective prevention – something that eludes us at present.
“Importantly, the implications for public health policy are profound because the physical activity of children, crucial to their fitness and well-being, may not improve until their levels of obesity are first checked.”