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Teen exercise 'may cut diabetes risks'

12 August 2015 09:54

Young teens could beat the odds of getting diabetes with regular exercise

Young teens could beat the odds of getting diabetes with regular exercise

Exercise during teenage years could reduce the risk of diabetes in later life, research suggests.

Scientists at the University of Exeter have found that physical activity provides the greatest benefits to adolescent insulin resistance - a precursor to type 2 diabetes - but it is only effective in the early teenage years.

Exercise made a difference at age 13, yet had no impact on insulin resistance by the age of 16.

Common condition

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.

It affects 3.9 million people in the UK, with an estimated 590,000 people not yet diagnosed.

Like with other conditions, early diagnosis is key. It can get progressively worse if left untreated.

But a diagnosis does not mean life has to stop. Diabetes travel insurance can offer peace of mind to those heading abroad on overseas trips.

Future interventions

The researchers measured insulin resistance in the same 300 children every year from the age of nine through to 16 by using accelerometers, also known as electronic motion sensors, worn around the child's waist.

Type 2 diabetes was 17% lower in the more active adolescents at the age of 13, independently of body fat levels.

But over the next three years the difference shortened until it disappeared completely at 16.

The team recommend that teens should be specifically targeted for reducing diabetes levels.

Dr Brad Metcalf, of the University of Exeter's School of Sport and Health Science, says the findings could have implications for future interventions addressing the insulin resistance of children.

He claims lessening the demand on the cells that produce insulin during the early teenage years may preserve them for longer in later life.

The journal Diabetologia published the latest findings.