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Children of Diabetics More Aware of Risk

A Japanese study reveals that adult offspring of type 2 diabetics are more aware that they are at increased risk of developing the disease than their parents. According to Dr. Keiko Kazuma and colleagues at the University of Tokyo, genetics and lifestyle could more likely contribute to the development of the disease among persons with type 2 diabetic parents.
To get a better understanding of the link, a study was conducted among 164 patients with type 2 diabetes and their offspring who are free of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. They were asked if the offspring were at increased risk of type 2 diabetes due to lifestyle, family history or overall risk. The study showed that 40 percent of the parents suggested that their children have an increased risk of developing diabetes due to lifestyle habits, while roughly half attributed the potential risk to family history or overall risk.

On the other hand, more than half of the offspring attributed their increased risk to lifestyle factors. Nearly threefourths said family history might be the cause, while 63 percent suggested that they are at a higher risk of diabetes from an overall perspective.

Researchers note that results of the study may reflect a “self-serving” thinking among parents and their offspring about the disease. Meaning, parents may attempt to downplay their role in passing the disease to their children, thereby minimizing the role of family history in the development of the disease in their offspring. On the other hand, children may say heredity is a more important factor than lifestyle to avoid personal responsibility.

“If patients are to inform their offspring about disease risks more effectively, their own potential feelings of guilt need to be tackled first. If [the] offspring are to take a more active stance toward prevention, realization of the importance of their own actions is particularly important in terms of risk,” said Dr. Kazuma and colleagues.

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