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Friday, September 18, 2009

Obese Kids and Diabetes

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 9:58 PM

LSU’s Health Sciences Center is conducting a five-year study looking at insulin sensitivity in children. The SILLY (Study of Insulin Sensitivity in Low-birth weight Louisiana Youth) project is into its fourth year, and Melinda Sothern, the study’s director, says her group could be on the cusp of a major discovery.

“We’re very close to finding out when obesity turns to diabetes in children. We’re going to be the first to break that,” Sothern says.

Besides LSUHSC, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Children’s Hospital and Women’s Hospital of Baton Rouge are involved in the project, and the study is in need of volunteers. With a few exceptions (call the number below for details), SILLY is interested in testing any child who is 7-9 years old. If parents suspect their child may be at risk for becoming obese and developing Type II diabetes, enrolling their kid in the federally-funded program might not be a bad idea. The main components of the testing involve measuring a child’s insulin sensitivity, cholesterol levels, a body scan and their energy expenditure. All told, this kind of testing would cost upwards of $20,000, but it is free for study participants. The results are shared with the child’s parents.

The project has started publishing some of its results already, and provided information to the American Diabetes Association this summer. When the study is concluded next year, Sothern expects to publish much more information on the project.

“We are documenting how soon a child that is overweight turns into a potential diabetic,” Sothern explains. “It’s very striking how early the signs begin. They start in seven-year-olds who aren’t even overweight yet.”

For those interested in enrolling a child in SILLY, please call 1-866-927-4559.

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