More children and young adults have type 2 diabetes than previously thought

by Barbara Hewitt on November 28, 2018

New research suggests that more needs to be done to combat the rise in type diabetes among children and young adults, with reducing obesity vital.

Diabetes UK, a British charity that is involved in research, fund raising and preventative campaigns, has revealed that almost 7,000 children and young adults now have the condition in England and Wales.

Type 2 Diabetes

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It says that this is much higher than previously thought and a rise in obesity is the main driver of type 2 diabetes in these groups, with family history and ethnic background also playing a part.

The charity describes it as a ‘shocking figure’ and warns that type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that leads to serious complications such as blindness, amputations, heart disease and kidney failure.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops over the age of 40 in White Europeans or after 25 in people who are African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian, but it is much more aggressive in children and young people than in adults, with a higher overall risk of complications that tend to appear much earlier.

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is greatly increased by being overweight or obese. Family history and ethnic background are also risk factors.

With more than a third of children in England, some 34%, overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, thousands more could be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the next few years.

The charity is calling on the Government to enact measures laid out in its childhood obesity plan to ban junk food advertising on TV to children before 9pm and restrict supermarket price promotions for unhealthy foods.

It says that NHS funding for the prevention of type 2 diabetes and improvement of care services should continue to reflect the seriousness of the growing diabetes crisis in order to radically improve health outcomes for future generations.

And it is also urging the NHS to provide appropriate specialist services to support children and young people with type 2 diabetes to manage the condition and reduce the risk of serious complications.

‘Type 2 diabetes can be devastating for children and young people. To help shape a future where fewer children develop the condition, we need continued commitment across society to create an environment that reduces obesity,’ said Bridget Turner, director of policy and campaigns at Diabetes UK.

‘We need to encourage healthy living by providing clear and easy to understand nutritional information about the products we are all buying, and protect children from adverts for foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar,’ she explained.

‘At the same time, we must look after those who already have the condition so they can avoid serious complications such as amputations, sight loss, stroke and kidney failure. Children and young people with type 2 diabetes should have access to expert treatment by healthcare professionals trained to manage and research the condition and the challenges it presents,’ she added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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