Prediabetic Asians not producing enough insulin: NUH study

Prediabetic Asians not producing enough insulin: NUH study

Researchers from the National University Hospital (NUH) have found that the main problem Asians on the brink of diabetes face is that they are not producing enough insulin. 

SINGAPORE: Researchers from the National University Hospital (NUH) have found that the main problem Asians on the brink of diabetes face is that they are not producing enough insulin.

During the Assessing Progression to Type 2 Diabetes (APT-2D) study which began in 2016, prediabetics and a normal group of volunteers were given a standardised intake of glucose.

For prediabetic individuals, their ability to make insulin in response to a glucose load is reduced by 36 per cent as compared to normal individuals.

Another reason for Type 2 diabetes is that the body does not respond to insulin effectively, also known as insulin resistance. Doctors have found that the difference in insulin resistance between the two groups was relatively small.

The preliminary findings were revealed at a press briefing on Monday (Oct 16). These early results were based off a study of 140 participants, which were predominantly Chinese.

According to Dr Sue-Anne Toh, principal investigator of APT-2D study, this result helps throw light on why Asians have a higher prevalence of diabetes compared to Caucasians, even for the same BMI.

“These early findings may suggest that Asians develop diabetes at much lower levels of obesity because they are unable to mount an appropriate insulin response to a glucose load. So it can potentially explain why we seem to see so much of diabetes even if we don't look particularly obese or overweight."

Dr Toh added that the findings underscored the importance of a healthy diet and active lifestyle. If the results prove conclusive at the end of the study, this could pave the way for future studies to formulate more effective and better tailored prevention and treatment strategies, Dr Toh added.

The researchers are recruiting more participants, and are looking for more representation from the Malay and Indian ethnic groups. Currently, 1,341 individuals have signed up for the study, and researchers hope to have 2,300 participants.

Those interested in taking part in the study can contact the research team at brite_spot@nuhs.edu.sg or call 8781-6302/8781-6303.

The study is expected to conclude in 2021. 

Source: CNA/bk

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