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Young People with Normal Body Weight May Also Suffer from Diabetes

From left: Dr. So Wing-yee, Prof. Juliana C.N. Chan, Dr. Andrea O.Y. Luk

The Hong Kong Institute of Diabetes and Obesity at CUHK conducted a research on young-onset diabetes from 1995 to 2009, in which cases of 10,000 diabetes patients were analysed. Results show that 20% of diabetes cases are young-onset, with an average age of onset at 30.  Among them, 30% have normal body weight, indicating that young individuals with normal body weight are also at risk of suffering from diabetes.

Prof. Juliana C.N. Chan, Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics and founding director of the institute, said, 'About 50% of young people with diabetes have high blood pressure and 75% of them have high cholesterol level. When compared to older-onset diabetes, young-onset diabetes is associated with 48% increased risk of cardiovascular disease and 35% increased risk of kidney disease.'

Dr. Andrea O.Y. Luk, honorary clinical assistant professor of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics remarked, 'Family history of diabetes and personal lifestyle are important risk factors of the disease. About 50–60% of young-onset diabetes patients have immediate family history. If either one's mother or father has diabetes, one's risk of diabetes increases three times; if both parents have diabetes, the risk increases six times. Rapid lifestyle changes, uncontrolled diet and lack of physical exercise all account for the rising prevalence of diabetes among the young people.'

Diabetes is a chronic disease without obvious symptoms at early stage. Dr. So Wing-yee, honorary clinical associate professor of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, said, 'we should be aware of our blood glucose level and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Regular checkup is also important to allow early diagnosis and timely treatment within the five-Year golden period.'

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