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Obesity heightens risk of ‘double diabetes,’ says expert
By our Abu Dhabi Bureau December 30, 2012
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ABU DHABI: A leading diabetes expert has warned about the compounded impact and risk of rising obesity and prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in the Middle East.

In order to avoid the nightmare scenario that he calls ‘double diabetes,’ professor Paolo Pozzilli advised the medical community to understand how obesity is a leading risk factor for those genetically pre-disposed to Type 1 diabetes.

Pozzilli is professor of Diabetes and Clinical Research at the Centre for Diabetes at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, as well as Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at the University Campus Bio-Medico in Rome, Italy.

Insulin resistance

He warned that obesity accelerates insulin resistance and reduced insulin sensitivity, a factor that is demonstrated to drive the immune process typical in Type 1 diabetes.

“Obesity accelerates the process known as beta cell reduction, and is a serious hazard for Type 1 diabetes leading to a new observable trait or clinical entity - the presence of Type 1 and Type 2 in the same individual.”

Professor Pozzilli aired his concerns as he addressed medical experts at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) Abu Dhabi recently. Professor Pozzilli was in the capital to share his insights on recent developments in the treatment of diabetes.

“In the region, obesity is believed to have a major impact on the general population and in particular, the young population. Indeed, some statistics suggest that 35 per cent of schoolchildren in the UAE are overweight or obese.”

He explained how the distinction between types of diabetes is blurring as more and more factors come into play and urged specialists to dig deep for diabetes treatment options.

Blurring lines

“Type 1 diabetes should be regarded as a very non-uniform disease. Until a few years ago you had the classification of Type 1 and Type 2; however now age is a factor, which needs serious consideration. I think broadly there are three ages where we have to consider how the disease process is taking place: before puberty, during puberty and after puberty. And the presence of insulin resistance and other associated factors - both genetic and immunological - are relevant considerations for specialists.”

He said that early diagnosis is crucial for managing diabetes of all types. “The earlier a patient is diagnosed, the less they tend to develop long-term complications associated with Type 1 diabetes. Of course education is so crucial and so is compliance to therapy,” he concluded.

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