Overweight-obesity and type 2 diabetes are both linked to social and ethnic inequalities, and contribute to rates of multimorbidity in the UK, and populations in south London.

High levels of overweight and obesity in young people of ethnic minority origins are likely to contribute to the high risks of type 2 diabetes occurring in ethnic minority populations.  However, because body fatness in childhood is poorly assessed by current measurement approaches (mainly based on body mass index) the true contribution of childhood overweight-obesity to emerging type 2 diabetes risk (both overall and in specific ethnic minority groups) is likely to have been underestimated.

What is the aim of the research?

This project has four main aims.

  • First, it aims to identify the most effective and efficient ways of identifying overweight and obesity in children, including children of ethnic minority origins.
  • Second, it aims to monitor patterns and burdens of overweight-obesity in children from different ethnic origins, with a focus on children in London.
  • Third, it aims to reassess the contribution of childhood overweight and obesity (using the most accurate available measures) to the development of type 2 diabetes risk in young people, both overall and in specific ethnic minority groups where possible.
  • Fourth, it will examine the use of more accurate body fatness assessment in the prevention of overweight-obesity in UK children, with the aim of reducing longer-term type 2 diabetes risk.

How the research is being carried out 

We will analyse data from several sources including: 

  • childhood body composition measurements made in several studies of London primary and secondary schools carried out during the last 10 years
  • London and England-wide data from the National Child Measurement Programme
  • data from cohort studies both in the UK and European countries linking body composition measurements in childhood with longer-term information on the incidence of type 2 diabetes.  

An advisory group, including parents and children, will contribute to the interpretation of study findings, and approaches to their dissemination and translation into practice.  

This project was adopted by the ARC in January 2021 and is expected to finish in December 2023.