From: Reuters
Published December 10, 2007 02:49 PM

Offspring of diabetic parents more aware of risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Adult offspring of people with type 2 diabetes are more aware than their parents that they face an increased risk of developing the disease, according to a new study from Japan.

A person whose parent has type 2 diabetes is more likely to develop the condition due to both genetics and lifestyle, Dr. Keiko Kazuma of the University of Tokyo and colleagues note.

To understand how people with diabetes and their relatives perceive this risk, the researchers surveyed 164 patients with type 2 diabetes and their offspring, none of whom had type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. All were asked whether the offspring were at increased risk of type 2 diabetes due to lifestyle, family history or overall risk.

Among parents, 40 percent said their sons or daughters were at increased risk of developing diabetes due to their lifestyle habits, while roughly half said that they were at increased risk due to family history or from an overall perspective.

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About half of offspring said they were at higher risk of diabetes due to lifestyle factors, while nearly three-quarters said family history increased their diabetes risk and about 63 percent said they had an increased risk of diabetes from an overall perspective.

These findings may reflect "self-serving" thinking among type 2 diabetic parents and their offspring, the researchers suggest. That is, parents may minimize the role of family history in the disease in an attempt to downplay their role in passing the disease along to their children, while offspring may want to avoid personal responsibility, so they in turn will say heredity is more important than lifestyle.

"If patients are to inform their offspring about disease risks more effectively, their own potential feelings of guilt need to be tackled first," Kazuma and colleagues say. "If 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."

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, December 2007.

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