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1.  Birthweight and risk markers for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in childhood: the Child Heart and Health Study in England (CHASE) 
Diabetologia  2014;58:474-484.
Lower birthweight (a marker of fetal undernutrition) is associated with higher risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and could explain ethnic differences in these diseases. We examined associations between birthweight and risk markers for diabetes and CVD in UK-resident white European, South Asian and black African-Caribbean children.
In a cross-sectional study of risk markers for diabetes and CVD in 9- to 10-year-old children of different ethnic origins, birthweight was obtained from health records and/or parental recall. Associations between birthweight and risk markers were estimated using multilevel linear regression to account for clustering in children from the same school.
Key data were available for 3,744 (66%) singleton study participants. In analyses adjusted for age, sex and ethnicity, birthweight was inversely associated with serum urate and positively associated with systolic BP. After additional height adjustment, lower birthweight (per 100 g) was associated with higher serum urate (0.52%; 95% CI 0.38, 0.66), fasting serum insulin (0.41%; 95% CI 0.08, 0.74), HbA1c (0.04%; 95% CI 0.00, 0.08), plasma glucose (0.06%; 95% CI 0.02, 0.10) and serum triacylglycerol (0.30%; 95% CI 0.09, 0.51) but not with BP or blood cholesterol. Birthweight was lower among children of South Asian (231 g lower; 95% CI 183, 280) and black African-Caribbean origin (81 g lower; 95% CI 30, 132). However, adjustment for birthweight had no effect on ethnic differences in risk markers.
Birthweight was inversely associated with urate and with insulin and glycaemia after adjustment for current height. Lower birthweight does not appear to explain emerging ethnic difference in risk markers for diabetes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3474-7) contains peer-reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
PMCID: PMC4320299  PMID: 25520157
Birthweight; Cardiovascular disease; Childhood; Ethnicity; Type 2 diabetes
2.  Adiposity in Early, Middle and Later Adult Life and Cardiometabolic Risk Markers in Later Life; Findings from the British Regional Heart Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114289.
Objectives: This research investigates the associations between body mass index (BMI) at 21, 40–59, 60–79 years of age on cardiometabolic risk markers at 60–79 years.
Methods: A prospective study of 3464 British men with BMI measured at 40–59 and 60–79 years, when cardiometabolic risk was assessed. BMI at 21 years was ascertained from military records, or recalled from middle-age (adjusted for reporting bias); associations between BMI at different ages and later cardiometabolic risk markers were examined using linear regression. Sensitive period, accumulation and mobility life course models were devised for high BMI (defined as BMI≥75th centile) and compared with a saturated BMI trajectory model.
Results: At ages 21, 40–59 and 60–79 years, prevalences of overweight (BMI≥25 kg/m2) were 12%, 53%, 70%, and obesity (≥30 kg/m2) 1.6%, 6.6%, and 17.6%, respectively. BMI at 21 years was positively associated with serum insulin, blood glucose, and HbA1c at 60–79 years, with increases of 1.5% (95%CI 0.8,2.3%), 0.4% (0.1,0.6%), 0.3% (0.1,0.4%) per 1 kg/m2, respectively, but showed no associations with blood pressure or blood cholesterol. However, these associations were modest compared to those between BMI at 60–79 years and serum insulin, blood glucose and HbA1c at 60–79 years, with increases of 8.6% (8.0,9.2%), 0.7% (0.5,0.9%), and 0.5% (0.4,0.7%) per 1 kg/m2, respectively. BMI at 60–79 years was also associated with total cholesterol and blood pressure. Associations for BMI at 40–59 years were mainly consistent with those of BMI at 60–79 years. None of the life course models fitted the data as well as the saturated model for serum insulin. A sensitive period at 50 years for glucose and HbA1c and sensitive period at 70 years for blood pressure were identified.
Conclusions: In this cohort of men who were thin compared to more contemporary cohorts, BMI in later life was the dominant influence on cardiovascular and diabetes risk. BMI in early adult life may have a small long-term effect on diabetes risk.
PMCID: PMC4256406  PMID: 25474626
3.  Influence of Adiposity on Insulin Resistance and Glycemia Markers Among U.K. Children of South Asian, Black African-Caribbean, and White European Origin 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(6):1712-1719.
Ethnic differences in type 2 diabetes risk between South Asians and white Europeans originate before adult life and are not fully explained by higher adiposity levels in South Asians. Although metabolic sensitivity to adiposity may differ between ethnic groups, this has been little studied in childhood. We have therefore examined the associations among adiposity, insulin resistance, and glycemia markers in children of different ethnic origins.
Cross-sectional study of 4,633 9- to 10-year-old children (response rate 68%) predominantly of South Asian, black African-Caribbean, and white European origin (n = 1,266, 1,176, and 1,109, respectively) who had homeostasis model assessments of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), glycemia markers (HbA1c and fasting glucose), and adiposity (BMI, waist circumference, skinfold thicknesses, and bioimpedance [fat mass]).
All adiposity measures were positively associated with HOMA-IR in all ethnic groups, but associations were stronger among South Asians compared to black African-Caribbeans and white Europeans. For a 1-SD increase in fat mass percentage, percentage differences in HOMA-IR were 37.5% (95% CI 33.3–41.7), 29.7% (25.8–33.8), and 27.0% (22.9–31.2), respectively (P interaction < 0.001). All adiposity markers were positively associated with HbA1c in South Asians and black African-Caribbeans but not in white Europeans; for a 1-SD increase in fat mass percentage, percentage differences in HbA1c were 0.04% (95% CI 0.03–0.06), 0.04% (0.02–0.05), and 0.02% (−0.00 to 0.04), respectively (P interaction < 0.001). Patterns for fasting glucose were less consistent.
South Asian children are more metabolically sensitive to adiposity. Early prevention or treatment of childhood obesity may be critical for type 2 diabetes prevention, especially in South Asians.
PMCID: PMC3661837  PMID: 23315600
Diabetes care  2013;37(1):116-123.
Energy intake, energy density and nutrient intakes are implicated in type 2 diabetes risk in adults, but little is known about their influence on emerging type 2 diabetes risk in childhood. We examined these associations in a multi-ethnic population of children.
Research Design and Methods
Cross-sectional study of 2017 children predominantly of white European, South Asian and black African-Caribbean origin aged 9-10 years who had a detailed 24 hour dietary recall, measurements of body composition and provided a fasting blood sample for measurements of plasma glucose, HbA1c and serum insulin; HOMA insulin resistance was also derived.
Energy intake was positively associated with insulin resistance. After the removal of 176 participants with implausible energy intakes (unlikely to be representative of habitual intake), energy intake was more strongly associated with insulin resistance, and was also associated with glucose and fat mass index. Energy density was also positively associated with insulin resistance and fat mass index. However, in mutually adjusted analyses, the associations for energy intake remained while those for energy density became non-significant. Individual nutrient intakes showed no associations with type 2 diabetes risk markers.
Higher total energy intake was strongly associated with high levels of insulin resistance and may help to explain emerging type 2 diabetes risk in childhood. Studies are needed to establish whether reducing energy intake produces sustained favourable changes in insulin resistance and circulating glucose levels.
PMCID: PMC3966263  PMID: 23939542
5.  Family dog ownership and levels of physical activity in childhood: findings from the Child Heart And health Study in England (CHASE) 
American journal of public health  2010;100(9):1669-1671.
Dog ownership is associated with higher levels of physical activity in adults; whether this association occurs in children is unknown. We examined objectively assessed levels of physical activity (using accelerometry) in 2065 children aged 9-10 years. Children from dog-owning families spent more time in light, moderate-vigorous physical activity, and recorded higher levels of activity counts-per-minute (25, 95%CI 6-44), and steps (357, 95%CI 14-701) per day than those who did not. Children living with pet-dogs are slightly more active, though the precise reasons have still to be established.
PMCID: PMC2920992  PMID: 20634441
Dog ownership; physical activity; children
6.  The estimated prevalence and incidence of late stage age related macular degeneration in the UK 
UK estimates of age related macular degeneration (AMD) occurrence vary.
To estimate prevalence, number and incidence of AMD by type in the UK population aged ≥50 years.
Age-specific prevalence rates of AMD obtained from a Bayesian meta-analysis of AMD prevalence were applied to UK 2007–2009 population data. Incidence was estimated from modelled age-specific prevalence.
Overall prevalence of late AMD was 2.4% (95% credible interval (CrI) 1.7% to 3.3%), equivalent to 513 000 cases (95% CrI 363 000 to 699 000); estimated to increase to 679 000 cases by 2020. Prevalences were 4.8% aged ≥65 years, 12.2% aged ≥80 years. Geographical atrophy (GA) prevalence rates were 1.3% (95% CrI 0.9% to 1.9%), 2.6% (95% CrI 1.8% to 3.7%) and 6.7% (95% CrI 4.6% to 9.6%); neovascular AMD (NVAMD) 1.2% (95% CrI 0.9% to 1.7%), 2.5% (95% CrI 1.8% to 3.4%) and 6.3% (95% CrI 4.5% to 8.6%), respectively. The estimated number of prevalent cases of late AMD were 60% higher in women versus men (314 000 cases in women, 192 000 men). Annual incidence of late AMD, GA and NVAMD per 1000 women was 4.1 (95% CrI 2.4% to 6.8%), 2.4 (95% CrI 1.5% to 3.9%) and 2.3 (95% CrI 1.4% to 4.0%); in men 2.6 (95% CrI 1.5% to 4.4%), 1.7 (95% CrI 1.0% to 2.8%) and 1.4 (95% CrI 0.8% to 2.4%), respectively. 71 000 new cases of late AMD were estimated per year.
These estimates will guide health and social service provision for those with late AMD and enable estimation of the cost of introducing new treatments.
PMCID: PMC3329633  PMID: 22329913
Prevalence; incidence; AMD; UK; epidemiology; clinical trial
7.  Retinal arteriolar tortuosity and cardiovascular risk factors in a multi-ethnic population study of 10 year old children; the Child Heart And health Study in England (CHASE) 
To examine the association between cardiovascular risk factors and retinal arteriolar tortuosity in a multiethnic child-population.
Cross sectional study of 986 UK primary-school children of South Asian, black African Caribbean, and white European origin aged 10-11 years. Anthropometric measurements and retinal imaging, were carried out and a fasting blood sample collected. Digital images of retinal arterioles were analysed using a validated semi-automated measure of tortuosity. Associations between tortuosity and cardiometabolic risk factors were analysed using multilevel linear regression, adjusted for gender, age, ethnicity, arteriole branch status, month and school.
Levels of arteriolar tortuosity were similar in boys and girls, and in different ethnic groups. Retinal arteriolar tortuosity was positively associated with levels of triglyceride, total and LDL cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure. One standard deviation increases in these risk factors were associated with 3.7% (95% CI 1.2, 6.4%), 3.3% (0.9, 5.8%), 3.1% (0.6, 5.6%), 2.0% (−0.3, 4.2%) and 2.3% (0.1, 4.6%) increases in tortuosity respectively. Adiposity, insulin resistance and blood glucose showed no associations with tortuosity.
Established cardiovascular risk factors, strongly linked to coronary heart disease in adulthood, may influence retinal arteriolar tortuosity at the end of the first decade of life.
PMCID: PMC3145146  PMID: 21659645
Retina; arteriolar tortuosity; cardiovascular risk
8.  Are Ethnic and Gender Specific Equations Needed to Derive Fat Free Mass from Bioelectrical Impedance in Children of South Asian, Black African-Caribbean and White European Origin? Results of the Assessment of Body Composition in Children Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76426.
Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is a potentially valuable method for assessing lean mass and body fat levels in children from different ethnic groups. We examined the need for ethnic- and gender-specific equations for estimating fat free mass (FFM) from BIA in children from different ethnic groups and examined their effects on the assessment of ethnic differences in body fat.
Cross-sectional study of children aged 8–10 years in London Primary schools including 325 South Asians, 250 black African-Caribbeans and 289 white Europeans with measurements of height, weight and arm-leg impedance (Z; Bodystat 1500). Total body water was estimated from deuterium dilution and converted to FFM. Multilevel models were used to derive three types of equation {A: FFM = linear combination(height+weight+Z); B: FFM = linear combination(height2/Z); C: FFM = linear combination(height2/Z+weight)}.
Ethnicity and gender were important predictors of FFM and improved model fit in all equations. The models of best fit were ethnicity and gender specific versions of equation A, followed by equation C; these provided accurate assessments of ethnic differences in FFM and FM. In contrast, the use of generic equations led to underestimation of both the negative South Asian-white European FFM difference and the positive black African-Caribbean-white European FFM difference (by 0.53 kg and by 0.73 kg respectively for equation A). The use of generic equations underestimated the positive South Asian-white European difference in fat mass (FM) and overestimated the positive black African-Caribbean-white European difference in FM (by 4.7% and 10.1% respectively for equation A). Consistent results were observed when the equations were applied to a large external data set.
Ethnic- and gender-specific equations for predicting FFM from BIA provide better estimates of ethnic differences in FFM and FM in children, while generic equations can misrepresent these ethnic differences.
PMCID: PMC3799736  PMID: 24204625
9.  Is body mass index before middle age related to coronary heart disease risk in later life? Evidence from observational studies 
Although obesity beginning early in life is becoming more common, its implications for coronary heart disease (CHD) risk in later life remain uncertain. We examined the relationship of body mass index (BMI) before 30 years of age to CHD risk in later life.
Systematic review of published studies relating BMI between age 2-30 years to later CHD risk. Studies were identified using Medline (1950 onwards), Embase (1980 onwards) and Web of Science (1970 onwards) databases (to November 2007).
Relative risks (RR) of CHD associated with a 1 standard deviation (SD) increase in BMI (most based on a narrow age-range at measurement) were extracted by 2 authors independently, and combined using random-effect models.
Fifteen studies provided seventeen estimates (731,337 participants, 23,894 CHD events) of the association of early BMI to later CHD outcome. BMI in early childhood (2 to 6 years, 3 estimates) showed a weak inverse association with CHD risk (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.82-1.07). BMI in later childhood (7 to <18 years, 7 estimates) and BMI in early adult life (18-30 years, 7 estimates) were both positively related to later CHD risk (RR 1.09, 95% CI 1.00-1.20; RR 1.19, 95% CI 1.11-1.29 respectively). However, there was considerable statistical heterogeneity between study estimates. Results were unaffected by adjustment for social class and/or cigarette smoking, blood pressure and/or total cholesterol, in studies with available data. Gender and year of birth (1900-1976) had little effect on the association.
BMI is positively related to CHD risk from childhood onwards; the associations in young adults are consistent with those observed in middle age. Long-term control of BMI from childhood may be important to reduce the risk of CHD.
PMCID: PMC2726133  PMID: 19506565
Body mass index; coronary heart disease; child/children; adolescent; young adults
10.  Topical treatments for seasonal allergic conjunctivitis: systematic review and meta-analysis of efficacy and effectiveness 
Background: Evidence for the effectiveness of topical treatments, in providing symptomatic relief from ocular allergy, remains uncertain.
Aims: To assess the effectiveness and relative efficacy of topical treatments for the management of seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.
Design of study: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Setting: A literature search of the Cochrane Library, Medline, and EMBASE bibliographic databases.
Method: Double-masked randomised controlled trials were identified, that compared the use of topical mast cell stabilisers (sodium cromoglycate, nedocromil, lodoxamide) with placebo, topical antihistamines with placebo, and topical mast cell stabilisers with topical antihistamines.
Results: A meta-analysis of six trials showed that patients using sodium cromoglycate were 17 times (95% confidence interval [CI] = 4 to 78) more likely to perceive benefit compared with those using a placebo, although this estimate may be partially influenced by publication bias. Five trials indicated that those patients using nedocromil were 1.8 times (95% CI = 1.3 to 2.6) more likely to perceive their allergy to be moderately or totally controlled than those using a placebo. Four trials showed that those using antihistamines were 1.3 times (95% CI = 0.8 to 2.2) more likely to perceive a ‘good’ treatment effect than those using mast cell stabilisers, although this beneficial effect was not statistically significant. Limited evidence suggests that antihistamines might have a faster therapeutic effect compared to mast cell stabilisers.
Conclusion: Overall, these findings confirm the benefit of topical mast cell stabilisers and antihistamines over placebo for the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis. There is, however, insufficient evidence to recommend the use of one type of medication over another. Treatment preferences should therefore be based on convenience of use (with reduced frequency of instillation for some preparations), patient preference, and costs, especially as important side effects were not reported with any medication.
PMCID: PMC1266207  PMID: 15186569
clinical trials; conjunctivitis; conjunctivitis; allergic; meta-analysis; review, systematic; topical administration
11.  Cardiometabolic Risk Markers in Indian Children: Comparison with UK Indian and White European Children 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36236.
UK Indian adults have higher risks of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes than Indian and UK European adults. With growing evidence that these diseases originate in early life, we compared cardiometabolic risk markers in Indian, UK Indian and white European children.
Comparisons were based on the Mysore Parthenon Birth Cohort Study (MPBCS), India and the Child Heart Health Study in England (CHASE), which studied 9–10 year-old children (538 Indian, 483 UK Indian, 1375 white European) using similar methods. Analyses adjusted for study differences in age and sex.
Compared with Mysore Indians, UK Indians had markedly higher BMI (% difference 21%, 95%CI 18 to 24%), skinfold thickness (% difference 34%, 95%CI 26 to 42%), LDL-cholesterol (mean difference 0.48, 95%CI 0.38 to 0.57 mmol/L), systolic BP (mean difference 10.3, 95% CI 8.9 to 11.8 mmHg) and fasting insulin (% difference 145%, 95%CI 124 to 168%). These differences (similar in both sexes and little affected by adiposity adjustment) were larger than those between UK Indians and white Europeans. Compared with white Europeans, UK Indians had higher skinfold thickness (% difference 6.0%, 95%CI 1.5 to 10.7%), fasting insulin (% difference 31%, 95%CI 22 to 40%), triglyceride (% difference 13%, 95%CI 8 to 18%) and LDL-cholesterol (mean difference 0.12 mmol/L, 95%CI 0.04 to 0.19 mmol/L).
UK Indian children have an adverse cardiometabolic risk profile, especially compared to Indian children. These differences, not simply reflecting greater adiposity, emphasize the need for prevention strategies starting in childhood or earlier.
PMCID: PMC3338673  PMID: 22558399
12.  Socio-Economic Position and Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors: Patterns in UK Children of South Asian, Black African-Caribbean and White European Origin 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32619.
Socio-economic position (SEP) and ethnicity influence type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) risk in adults. However, the influence of SEP on emerging T2DM risks in different ethnic groups and the contribution of SEP to ethnic differences in T2DM risk in young people have been little studied. We examined the relationships between SEP and T2DM risk factors in UK children of South Asian, black African-Caribbean and white European origin, using the official UK National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) and assessed the extent to which NS-SEC explained ethnic differences in T2DM risk factors.
Methods and Findings
Cross-sectional school-based study of 4,804 UK children aged 9–10 years, including anthropometry and fasting blood analytes (response rates 70%, 68% and 58% for schools, individuals and blood measurements). Assessment of SEP was based on parental occupation defined using NS-SEC and ethnicity on parental self-report. Associations between NS-SEC and adiposity, insulin resistance (IR) and triglyceride differed between ethnic groups. In white Europeans, lower NS-SEC status was related to higher ponderal index (PI), fat mass index, IR and triglyceride (increases per NS-SEC decrement [95%CI] were 1.71% [0.75, 2.68], 4.32% [1.24, 7.48], 5.69% [2.01, 9.51] and 3.17% [0.96, 5.42], respectively). In black African-Caribbeans, lower NS-SEC was associated with lower PI (−1.12%; [−2.01, −0.21]), IR and triglyceride, while in South Asians there were no consistent associations between NS-SEC and T2DM risk factors. Adjustment for NS-SEC did not appear to explain ethnic differences in T2DM risk factors, which were particularly marked in high NS-SEC groups.
SEP is associated with T2DM risk factors in children but patterns of association differ by ethnic groups. Consequently, ethnic differences (which tend to be largest in affluent socio-economic groups) are not explained by NS-SEC. This suggests that strategies aimed at reducing social inequalities in T2DM risk are unlikely to reduce emerging ethnic differences in T2DM risk.
PMCID: PMC3296720  PMID: 22412897
13.  Travel to School and Physical Activity Levels in 9–10 Year-Old UK Children of Different Ethnic Origin; Child Heart and Health Study in England (CHASE) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30932.
Travel to school may offer a convenient way to increase physical activity levels in childhood. We examined the association between method of travel to school and physical activity levels in urban multi-ethnic children.
Methods and Findings
2035 children (aged 9–10 years in 2006–7) provided data on their usual method of travel to school and wore an Actigraph-GT1M activity monitor during waking hours. Associations between method of travel and mean level of physical activity (counts per minute [CPM], steps, time spent in light, moderate or vigorous activity per day) were examined in models adjusted for confounding variables. 1393 children (69%) walked or cycled to school; 161 (8%) used public transport and 481 (24%) travelled by car. White European children were more likely to walk/cycle, black African Caribbeans to travel by public transport and South Asian children to travel by car. Children travelling by car spent less time in moderate to vigorous physical activity (−7 mins, 95%CI-9,-5), and had lower CPM (−32 CPM, 95%CI-44,-19) and steps per day (−813 steps, 95%CI,-1043,-582) than walkers/cyclists. Pupils travelling by public transport had similar activity levels to walkers/cyclists. Lower physical activity levels amongst car travellers' were especially marked at travelling times (school days between 8–9 am, 3–5 pm), but were also evident on weekdays at other times and at weekends; they did not differ by gender or ethnic group.
Active travel to school is associated with higher levels of objectively measured physical activity, particularly during periods of travel but also at other times. If children travelling by car were to achieve physical activity levels (steps) similar to children using active travel, they would increase their physical activity levels by 9%. However, the population increase would be a modest 2%, because of the low proportion of car travellers in this urban population.
PMCID: PMC3272007  PMID: 22319596
15.  Interleukin 18 and coronary heart disease: Prospective study and systematic review 
Atherosclerosis  2011;217(1):227-233.
Previous studies suggest that circulating levels of interleukin-18 (IL-18) may be prospectively related to risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in the general population. We report new data from the largest prospective study to date, which are combined with data from all published prospective studies in a meta-analysis.
We measured baseline IL-18 levels in stored serum samples of subjects from a case–control study nested within a prospective study of 5661 men aged 40–59 years recruited from general practices in 18 British towns in 1978–1980 and followed-up for up to 16 years (median time to event 8.4 years) for fatal CHD and non-fatal myocardial infarction (595 cases, 1238 controls).
IL-18 concentrations were strongly related to cigarette smoking, triglyceride, HDL-cholesterol (inversely) and to circulating levels of several inflammatory and haemostatic markers. Men in the top third of baseline IL-18 levels had an age-adjusted odds ratio (OR) for CHD of 1.55 (95% CI 1.21, 1.98) compared with those in the lowest third; this was reduced to 1.30 (95% CI 0.99, 1.69) after additional adjustment for vascular risk factors and 1.12 (95% CI 0.84, 1.49) after further adjustment for CRP and IL-6. In meta-analyses of CVD, associations (or effect sizes) were consistent between studies; RRs were 1.63 (95% CI 1.46, 1.82) after age adjustment, 1.39 (95% CI 1.24, 1.55) after additional risk factor adjustment and 1.34 (95% CI 1.17, 1.54) after additional adjustment for inflammatory markers.
Circulating IL-18 is prospectively and independently associated with CVD risk.
PMCID: PMC3146704  PMID: 21481392
Coronary heart disease; Epidemiology; Interleukin-18; Cohort; Meta-analysis
16.  Ethnic Differences in the Prevalence of Myopia and Ocular Biometry in 10- and 11-Year-Old Children: The Child Heart and Health Study in England (CHASE) 
In children from similar sociodemographic backgrounds attending the same schools, South Asian children were nine times more likely to be myopic and black African Caribbeans three times more likely, compared with white Europeans. Ethnic differences in environmental susceptibility to myopia may be explained by genetics or early life exposures.
Ethnic differences in childhood prevalence of myopia have not been well characterized in the United Kingdom. In this study, ethnic differences in refractive status and ocular biometry were examined in a multiethnic sample of British children.
This was a cross-sectional study of 10- and 11-year-old school children of South Asian, black African Caribbean, and white European ethnic origin. Vision, open-field autorefraction (without cycloplegia), and ocular biometry were measured in each eye. Myopia was defined as spherical equivalent refraction of −0.50 D with unaided vision of 20/30 or worse (in one or both eyes). Ethnic differences in the prevalence of myopia were examined by using logistic regression, and multiple linear regression was used for ethnic differences in ocular biometry. All models were adjusted for age, sex, and clustering within school.
Data were available for 1179 children. The prevalence of myopia was 25.2%, 10.0%, and 3.4%, respectively, in the South Asian, black African Caribbean, and white European children. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) of myopia compared with the white European children were 8.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.0 to 19.4) in the South Asian and 3.2 (95% CI, 1.4 to 7.2) in black African Caribbean children. Ethnic differences in the prevalence of myopia were largely accounted for by ethnic differences in axial length. The South Asian and black African Caribbean children had longer axial lengths (0.44 mm; 95% CI, 0.30 to 0.57 mm and 0.30 mm; 95% CI, 0.16 to 0.44 mm, respectively).
Among British children exposed to the same schooling environment, the South Asians had the highest prevalence of myopia, followed by the black African Caribbeans compared with the white Europeans. A quarter of British South Asian children were myopic, which is strongly related to increased axial length.
PMCID: PMC3055754  PMID: 20631242
17.  Ethnic and gender differences in physical activity levels among 9–10-year-old children of white European, South Asian and African–Caribbean origin: the Child Heart Health Study in England (CHASE Study) 
Background Ethnic differences in physical activity in children in the UK have not been accurately assessed. We made objective measurements of physical activity in 9–10-year-old British children of South Asian, black African–Caribbean and white European origin.
Methods Cross-sectional study of urban primary school children (2006–07). Actigraph-GT1M activity monitors were worn by 2071 children during waking hours on at least 1 full day. Ethnic differences in mean daily activity [counts, counts per minute of registered time (CPM) and steps] were adjusted for age, gender, day of week and month. Multilevel modelling allowed for repeated days within individual and clustering within school.
Results In white Europeans, mean daily counts, CPM and mean daily steps were 394 785, 498 and 10 220, respectively. South Asian and black Caribbean children recorded more registered time per day than white Europeans (34 and 36 min, respectively). Compared with white Europeans, South Asians recorded 18 789 fewer counts [95% confidence interval (CI) 6390–31 187], 41 fewer CPM 95% CI 26–57) and 905 fewer steps (95% CI 624–1187). Black African–Caribbeans recorded 25 359 more counts (95% CI 14 273–36 445), and similar CPM, but fewer steps than white Europeans. Girls recorded less activity than boys in all ethnic groups, with 74 782 fewer counts (95% CI 66 665–82 899), 84 fewer CPM (95% CI 74–95) and 1484 fewer steps (95% CI 1301–1668).
Conclusion British South Asian children have lower objectively measured physical activity levels than European whites and black African–Caribbeans.
PMCID: PMC2720395  PMID: 19377098
Ethnic differences; childhood; physical activity
18.  Early Emergence of Ethnic Differences in Type 2 Diabetes Precursors in the UK: The Child Heart and Health Study in England (CHASE Study) 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(4):e1000263.
Peter Whincup and colleagues carry out a cross-sectional study examining ethnic differences in precursors of of type 2 diabetes among children aged 9–10 living in three UK cities.
Adults of South Asian origin living in the United Kingdom have high risks of type 2 diabetes and central obesity; raised circulating insulin, triglyceride, and C-reactive protein concentrations; and low HDL-cholesterol when compared with white Europeans. Adults of African-Caribbean origin living in the UK have smaller increases in type 2 diabetes risk, raised circulating insulin and HDL-cholesterol, and low triglyceride and C-reactive protein concentrations. We examined whether corresponding ethnic differences were apparent in childhood.
Methods and Findings
We performed a cross-sectional survey of 4,796 children aged 9–10 y in three UK cities who had anthropometric measurements (68% response) and provided blood samples (58% response); ethnicity was based on parental definition. In age-adjusted comparisons with white Europeans (n = 1,153), South Asian children (n = 1,306) had higher glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) (% difference: 2.1, 95% CI 1.6 to 2.7), fasting insulin (% difference 30.0, 95% CI 23.4 to 36.9), triglyceride (% difference 12.9, 95% CI 9.4 to 16.5), and C-reactive protein (% difference 43.3, 95% CI 28.6 to 59.7), and lower HDL-cholesterol (% difference −2.9, 95% CI −4.5 to −1.3). Higher adiposity levels among South Asians (based on skinfolds and bioimpedance) did not account for these patterns. Black African-Caribbean children (n = 1,215) had higher levels of HbA1c, insulin, and C-reactive protein than white Europeans, though the ethnic differences were not as marked as in South Asians. Black African-Caribbean children had higher HDL-cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels than white Europeans; adiposity markers were not increased.
Ethnic differences in type 2 diabetes precursors, mostly following adult patterns, are apparent in UK children in the first decade. Some key determinants operate before adult life and may provide scope for early prevention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Worldwide, nearly 250 million people have diabetes, and the number of people affected by this chronic disease is increasing rapidly. Diabetes is characterized by dangerous amounts of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone that the pancreas releases when blood sugar levels rise after eating (digestion of food produces glucose). In people with type 2 diabetes (the most common type of diabetes), blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that usually respond to insulin by removing sugar from the blood become less responsive to insulin (insulin resistant). Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with diet and exercise, and with drugs that help the pancreas make more insulin or that make cells more sensitive to insulin. Long-term complications of diabetes include kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, and an increased risk of developing cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and stroke.
Why Was This Study Done?
South Asians and African-Caribbeans living in Western countries tend to have higher rates of type 2 diabetes than host populations. South Asian adults living in the UK, for example, have a 3-fold higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than white Europeans. They also have higher fasting blood levels of glucose, insulin and triglycerides (a type of fat), higher blood levels of “glycated hemoglobin” (HbA1c; an indicator of average of blood-sugar levels over time), more body fat (increased adiposity), raised levels of a molecule called C-reactive protein, and lower levels of HDL-cholesterol (another type of fat) than white Europeans. Most of these “diabetes precursors” (risk factors) are also seen in black African-Caribbean adults living in the UK except that individuals in this ethnic group often have raised HDL-cholesterol levels and low triglyceride levels. Ethnic differences in type 2 diabetes precursors are also present in adolescents, but the extent to which they are present in childhood remains unclear. Knowing this information could have implications for diabetes prevention. In this population-based study, therefore, the researchers investigate patterns of diabetes precursors in 9- to 10-year-old UK children of white European, South Asian, and black African-Caribbean origin.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled nearly 5,000 children (including 1,153 white European, 1,306 South Asian and 1,215 black African-Caribbean children) from primary schools with high prevalences of ethnic minority pupils in London, Birmingham, and Leicester in the Child Heart and Health study in England (CHASE). They measured and weighed more than two-thirds of the enrolled children and determined their adiposity. They also took blood samples for measurement of diabetes precursors from nearly two-thirds of the children. The recorded ethnicity of each child was based on parental definition. The researchers' analysis of these data showed that, compared with white Europeans, South Asian children had higher levels of HbA1c, insulin, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein but lower HDL-cholesterol levels. In addition, they had higher adiposity levels than the white European children, but this did not account for the observed differences in the other diabetes precursors. Black African-Caribbean children also had higher levels of HbA1c, insulin, and C-reactive protein than white European children, although the differences were smaller than those between South Asians and white Europeans. Similar to black African-Caribbean adults, however, children of this ethnic origin had higher HDL-cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels than white Europeans.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that ethnic differences in diabetes precursors are already present in apparently healthy children before they are 10 years old. Furthermore, most of the ethnic differences in diabetes precursors seen among the children follow the pattern seen in adults. Although these findings need confirming in more children, they suggest that the ethnic differences in type 2 diabetes susceptibility first described in immigrants to the UK are persisting in UK-born South Asian and black African-Caribbean children. Most importantly, these findings suggest that some of the factors thought to be responsible for ethnic differences in type 2 diabetes—for example, varying levels of physical activity and dietary differences—are operating well before adult life. Interventions that target these factors early could, therefore, offer good opportunities for diabetes prevention in high-risk ethnic groups, provided such interventions are carefully tailored to the needs of these groups.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The International Diabetes Federation provides information about all aspects of diabetes (in English, French and Spanish)
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides detailed information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals and the general public, including information on diabetes in specific US populations (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service also provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes (in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes (in English and Spanish)
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a fact sheet on diabetes disparities among racial and ethnic minorities
PMCID: PMC2857652  PMID: 20421924
19.  Is the NEI-VFQ-25 a useful tool in identifying visual impairment in an elderly population? 
BMC Ophthalmology  2006;6:24.
The use of self-report questionnaires to substitute for visual acuity measurement has been limited. We examined the association between visual impairment and self reported visual function in a population sample of older people in the UK.
Cross sectional study of people aged more than 75 years who initially participated in a trial of health screening. The association between 25-item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ) scores and visual impairment (defined as an acuity of less than 6/18 in the better eye) was examined using logistic regression.
Visual acuity and NEI-VFQ scores were obtained from 1807 participants (aged 77 to 101 years, 36% male), from 20 general practices throughout the UK. After adjustment for age, gender, practice and NEI-VFQ sub-scale scores, those complaining of poor vision in general were 4.77 times (95% CI 3.03 to 7.53) more likely to be visually impaired compared to those who did not report difficulty. Self-reported limitations with social functioning and dependency on others due to poor vision were also associated with visual impairment (odds ratios, 2.52, 95% CI 1.55 to 4.11; 1.73, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.86 respectively). Those reporting difficulties with near vision and colour vision were more likely to be visually impaired (odds ratios, 2.32, 95% CI 1.30 to 4.15; 2.25, 95% CI 1.35 to 3.73 respectively). Other NEI-VFQ sub-scale scores were unrelated to measures of acuity. Similar but weaker odds ratios were found with reduced visual acuity (defined as less than 6/12 in the better eye). Although differences in NEI-VFQ scores were small, scores were strongly associated with visual acuity, binocular status, and difference in acuity between eyes.
NEI-VFQ questions regarding the quality of general vision, social functioning, visual dependency, near vision and colour vision are strongly and independently associated with an objective measure of visual impairment in an elderly population.
PMCID: PMC1523367  PMID: 16764714
20.  Effect of breast feeding in infancy on blood pressure in later life: systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2003;327(7425):1189-1195.
Objective To determine whether breast feeding in infancy compared with bottle feeding formula milk is associated with lower mean blood pressure at different ages.
Design Systematic review.
Data sources Embase, Medline, and Web of Science databases.
Study selection Studies showing the effects of feeding in infancy on blood pressure at different ages.
Data extraction Pooled mean differences in blood pressure between breast fed infants and those bottle fed formula milk, based on random effects models.
Data synthesis The pooled mean difference in systolic blood pressure was -1.10 mm Hg (95% confidence interval -1.79 to -0.42 mm Hg) but with significant heterogeneity between estimates (P < 0.001). The difference was largest in studies of < 300 participants (-2.05 mm Hg, -3.30 to -0.80 mm Hg), intermediate in studies of 300-1000 participants (1.13 mm Hg, -2.53 to 0.27 mm Hg), and smallest in studies of > 1000 participants (-0.16 mm Hg, -0.60 to 0.28 mm Hg). An Egger test but not Begg test was statistically significant for publication bias. The difference was unaltered by adjustment for current size and was independent of age at measurement of blood pressure and year of birth. Diastolic blood pressure was not significantly related to type of feeding in infancy.
Conclusions Selective publication of small studies with positive findings may have exaggerated claims that breast feeding in infancy reduces systolic blood pressure in later life. The results of larger studies suggest that feeding in infancy has at most a modest effect on blood pressure, which is of limited clinical or public health importance.
PMCID: PMC274051  PMID: 14630752

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