Girls with poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes are more likely to have cardiac abnormalities than are their healthy peers, or even girls with Type 1 diabetes, according to a study involving research conducted by Christopher Baldi, an NAU assistant professor of exercise science.

“We are discovering that the reversible diabetes, Type 2, has the worst prognosis for heart complications, even in kids,” Baldi said.

The research, featured in Diabetes Care magazine, concludes that girls with Type 2 diabetes should take measures to lose weight before it affects their heart.

Baldi said the main cause of Type 2 diabetes is obesity, a disease considered “reversible” with weight loss and increased physical activity.

“Childhood obesity rates in the United States are among the highest in world,” Baldi noted. “We need to target teens with Type 2 diabetes to intervene and prevent them from having a lifetime of medical complications.”

Baldi began researching the effects of diabetes on teens while teaching at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, prior to coming to NAU in 2007. He is continuing to collaborate with researchers in New Zealand and is working with NAU students to collect data about how diabetes is affecting the hearts and lungs of teens.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1, usually diagnosed before age 7, is a failure of the pancreas to produce insulin, which is transported from food into energy for our bodies. Type 2 diabetes differs in that it is a condition where the body becomes resistant to its own insulin.

The findings are based on a study of eight girls with type 2 diabetes and 11 with type 1 disease who were drawn from a hospital diabetes service. The nondiabetic control group included nine lean and 11 overweight girls.