London: When it comes to curbing diabetes risk through physical activities, exercise before age 13 has greater impact than at a later stage, new research has found.
The findings could help design more effective interventions for children by targeting the early teenagers.
Physical activity provides the greatest benefits to adolescent insulin resistance – a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes – when the condition peaks at age 13, the findings showed.
But exercise may not lower insulin resistance at age 16.
“Our study found that physical activity reduced this early-teenage peak in insulin resistance but had no impact at age 16,” said one of the researchers Brad Metcalf, senior lecturer in physical activity and health at University of Exeter in England.
“We are not saying that 16-year-olds don’t need to be physically active, there are other health benefits to be gained from being active at all ages,” Metcalf pointed out.
The researchers measured insulin resistance, a condition which leads to high blood sugar and is a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, in the same 300 children every year from age nine through to age 16.
The results showed that the condition was 17 percent lower in the more active adolescents at age 13 independently of body fat levels, but this difference diminished progressively over the next three years.
“A reduction in this peak could lessen the demand on the cells that produce insulin during this critical period, which may preserve them for longer in later life,” Metcalf said.
The study was published in the journal Diabetologia.