01/28/2015 11:27 EST | Updated 03/30/2015 05:59 EDT

Type 2 diabetes increasing in under-30 age category, B.C. study shows

A new B.C. study on Type 2 diabetes shows that the disease is increasing among people under the age of 30. 

It's been typically thought of as a disease that affects older populations, but researchers at the Providence Health Care in Vancouver have found that the rate of Type 2 diabetes has surpassed Type 1 diabetes under the age of 30. 

The figures are particularly alarming for youth of South Asian and Chinese descent. 

"South Asians are three to five times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than the general population,” said Dr. Parmjit Sohal, one of the co-authors.

“This study suggests that this increased risk of Type 2 diabetes may begin as early as age 20.”

Of all the diabetics surveyed, the study showed that 87 per cent of Chinese youth had Type 2 diabetes as did 86 per cent of South Asian youth — a significantly higher proportion compared to the 62 per cent of white youth that have the disease. 

The study didn't look at exactly why more young people are getting Type 2 diabetes, but an increase in obesity, poor eating habits and simply not getting enough exercise are certainly factors. 

The good news is that Type 2 diabetes can prevented, or at least delayed, with proper dietary habits and exercise.

“Over the last few decades, lifestyles have changed dramatically. Many now live in urbanized environments where people are generally less active and eat more high-calorie foods," said Dr. Calvin Ke, another co-author. 

"These  changes have led to an astounding increase of young people with diabetes. We need to act urgently to prevent diabetes in young people.”