Exercise in early teens 'cuts risk of diabetes'
Exercising during the early teenage years could reduce a child's risk of developing diabetes later in life, health experts have said.
A study led by the University of Exeter found that physical activity provides the greatest benefits to adolescent insulin resistance, a condition which leads to high blood sugar and is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
But researchers found that while exercise made a difference at age 13, it made no impact on insulin resistance by the age of 16.
They said their findings, published in the journal Diabetologia, suggested that early teens should be specifically targeted for reducing diabetes levels.
There are million people in the UK and Ireland with type 2 diabetes - the most common kind - which is linked to increasing levels of obesity, unhealthy diets and a lack of exercise.
In this latest study, the team measured insulin resistance in the same 300 children every year from the age of nine through to 16 by using accelerometers (electronic motion sensors) worn around the child's waist.
The results showed that the condition was 17pc lower in the more active adolescents at the age of 13 independently of body fat levels, but this difference diminished progressively over the next three years and had disappeared completely by age 16, when insulin resistance levels were much lower.
Obesity is believed to account for 80-85pc of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.