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Curr Diab Rep. 2014 Feb;14(2):455. doi: 10.1007/s11892-013-0455-z.

Metabolic basis of ethnic differences in diabetes risk in overweight and obese youth.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, Childhood Obesity Research Center, University of Southern California, 2250 Alcazar Street CSC 210, Los Angeles, CA, 90089-9073, USA.


The global pandemic of childhood obesity has led to increased risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Studies have shown decreased insulin sensitivity and/or secretion with increasing adiposity and consistently observed greater risk for T2DM in obese, non-Caucasian youth. In the current review we describe recent advances in understanding how obesity and metabolic status in children and adolescents confers various risk profiles for T2DM among Latinos, African Americans, Caucasians, Asians, and Native Americans. These possible determinants include ectopic fat distribution, adipose tissue inflammation and fibrosis, and elevated plasma levels of nonesterified free fatty acids. Future work should aim to elucidate the ethnic-specific pathophysiology of T2DM in order to develop and implement appropriate prevention and treatment strategies based on different ethnic profiles of diabetes risk.

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