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Social determinants of health are key predictors of pre-diabetes in Canadian youth

Type 2 diabetes is a complex chronic disease. Among youth, type 2 diabetes afflicts youth living in poverty and youth who are racial minorities. The research question that guided this recent study from Dr. McGavock and his team was “Are youth with pre-diabetes more likely to live in poverty or experience adverse social conditions, compared to youth with normal blood sugars?” To answer this question, we relied on data from ~3500 children and adolescents 6-19 yrs that participated in two waves of the Canadian Health Measures Survey, a national health survey led by statistics Canada. We found that 1/20 children in Canada live with pre-diabetes and similar to those living with diabetes they 2 times more likely to be a racial minority and 35% more likely to live in households where parents have less education. As expected, carrying extra weight and being inactive also predicted the risk of pre-diabetes among Canadian youth. This is one of the largest studies of it’s kind in Canada and reinforced the notion that social factors cluster with the risk for type 2 diabetes in children. These results may guide future screening efforts for type 2 diabetes risk in youth and be included in the design of prevention programs.

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