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New B.C. study shows big increase in Type 2 diabetes in youths

WATCH ABOVE: A BC study says the rate of Type 2 diabetes — which is caused mostly by obesity and inactivity — has increased dramatically.

VANCOUVER – Type 2 diabetes used to be considered a disease of older people. But a new BC study has found Type 2 diabetes has drastically increased among young people, with the highest number of new cases for South Asians — twice the rate of Caucasian youth and triple that of Chinese in the same age group.

The study led by Providence Health Care found the majority of young people under 30 with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which, unlike Type 1, is caused mostly by obesity and physical inactivity.

Dr. Calvin Ke, one of the study authors, says urgent action is needed to prevent Type 2 diabetes among youth who are being diagnosed as early as age 20, though screening for the disease doesn’t start until age 40.

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WATCH:  Dr. Calvin Ke spoke with Global News about the study

It’s hit people like Emma Hoskins, who two years ago was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the age of 22.

“I was very upset, I didn’t know what it was but the way they were talking to me…,” Hoskins told Global News.

“I knew it was very bad and that my life be changing very quickly.”

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Hoskins believes it was a mix of being being too lazy to cook for herself and eating unhealthy university dormitory and convenience food that led to her diabetes. Poor food choices coupled with not exercising consistently were also factors.

“I didn’t know this could happen to me,” she said.

“That someone as young as me could have this… and I didn’t know what the effects could be.”

Two weeks ago Hoskins started a blog called Skinny Bitch which is not about vanity, it’s about health. Her tagline? In order to change, we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The blog keeps her honest and along with the help of a nutritionist and taking control of her health, exercise and eating, Hoskins’ goal is to lead a normal life and not let the disease progress.

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“This is something I will have to check for the rest of my life even when I’m a healthy weight and exercising,” the now 24-year-old said.

“I could still have to be on these medications…. and it could turn into Type 1, where I need insulin.”

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While the study says 62 per cent of white youth with diabetes have Type 2, in South Asians that number rises to 86 per cent and in Chinese youth it is 87 per cent.

Senior author Dr. Nadia Khan says although the study did not look at the causes of rising rates of youth diabetes, obesity, high-calorie diets laden with sugar and sedentary lifestyles are likely responsible.

Because Type 2 diabetes can be controlled and prevented with proper nutrition and exercise, the researches believe these increased rates in youth are a sign that the encouragement of healthy lifestyles needs to start in childhood.

The study has been published in the Diabetic Medicine journal.

~ with files from Canadian Press and Linda Aylesworth