The Dasman Diabetes Institute, the School Oral Health Program of Kuwait, Faculty of Dentistry, Kuwait University and the Forsyth Institute of Boston, USA have combined their talents to conduct a clinical study of obesity in Kuwaiti children. In this study, the Kuwait Healthy Life Study, over 8,000 Kuwaiti children participated starting with a first visit in 2011-2012 and a second visit in 2013-2014.
In a symposium entitled “The Future of diabetes prevention in Kuwait”, four speakers outlined their vision of new directions proposed as a result of four years into a 5-year study. This symposium was held at the Dasman Institute in Kuwait from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Thursday, 22 May 2014.
The first speaker, Dr. J Max Goodson of the Forsyth Institute in Boston spoke on “Significant Early Findings from the Kuwait Healthy Life Study” In his presentation; he outlined important recent findings. These include the observation that between 2011 and 2013, obesity in 10-year old children increased from 24% to 36% at 12 years old. In the same interval, high blood pressure increased from 26% to 44%.
A unique aspect of these studies is the measurement of factors in the saliva that act as surrogates for blood measurements. In this work it was found that a dramatic reduction in the good cholesterol levels occurred with no change in glucose. In addition, it was found that insulin levels in obese children were three times that of normal weight children. It is suggested that high blood insulin levels may be an important trigger of the weight gain seen in these children and potentially a factor to control to reduce risk of diabetes.
In a second presentation, Dr.Hend. Alqaderi, a native of Kuwait and a doctoral student at Harvard working with Dr. Goodson presented a lecture on “Short Sleep Duration as a Risk Factor for Obesity and Gingivitis in Kuwaiti Children”. In this presentation data was presented as to how sleep habits in Kuwaiti children seem to be affecting their metabolic health.
In a third presentation, Dr. Mary Tavares spoke on “An expanded role of the Dentist in management of metabolic diseases”. She spoke on how dentists may work with medical doctors to better control metabolic diseases. This presentation is especially relevant since the School Oral Health Program of Kuwait has managed the entire clinical aspect of this research.
In the final presentation, Dr. Francine Welty, a cardiologist, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard School of Medicine, spoke on “The Role of Lifestyle Interventions in the Prevention of Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes”. In this presentation, she discussed potential mechanisms accounting for the transition from metabolically healthy to metabolically unhealthy in overweight and obese individuals and how this transition could be studied in the lifestyle intervention in the Kuwait Healthy Life Study.