The Botnia Study

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the world; today approximately 250 million people suffer from diabetes which is estimated to increase to 400 million in year 2025. In Finland 6-8% suffers from the disease, most of them (about 90%) from type 2 diabetes. The disease may cause severe damage in blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves which significantly could affect the patient´s life quality. The medical care of diabetes represents an expensive part for health care, approximately 10% of health care costs goes to treatment of diabetes and the costs for the care of a diabetes patient is estimated to approximately €4000 per year.

Type 2 Diabetes is a typical welfare disease which increases as we embrace a Western lifestyle containing of too much food and a lack of exercise. But not all people who are careless about their food and axercise will get diabetes, hereditary predisposition is also required. Type 2 diabetes is a hereditary disease: if one of the parents suffers from diabetes, the child´s risk of suffering from diabetes during its lifetime is approximately 40%. The risk is even higher if both of the parents suffers from the disease and it also seems to matter more if the mother is afflicted by type 2 diabetes. Many of these predispositions were probably useful for our ancestors - it helped them to use the energy in the diet optimally in order to store reserves for harsh times. Today, these harsh times seldom occurs and the predispositions are more dangerous than useful. Thus, you can say that type 2 diabetes is the results of a collision between a genetic inheritance and a western environment.

The Botnia project was instituted in 1990 in order to investigate and explain these connections at three care centers in Osthrobothnia; Närpes, Korsholm and Malax-Korsnäs. At a later state the project was expanded to also cover Jakobstad and Vasa, along with other areas in Finland and southern Sweden. Until today, approximately 11000 people from 1400 families have participated in the project.

The Botnia project has four aims: 

  • To identify early disturbances in persons with risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes
  • To identify gene defects which cause these interferences and which increase the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • To investigate which cause these gene defects has for the development of the disease and the outlet of the disease
  • To try to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes