Worrying signs in the Indian city of Chennai

by Mark Benson on October 3, 2012

Worrying signs in the Indian city of Chennai

Indian authorities have this week released data which will worry many people across the country as it seems diabetes type II is now more prevalent in children than ever before. There is growing concern that a number of factors are now coming together to increase the risk of young children developing the condition which will have a material impact upon their lives in the short, medium and longer term.

Chennai diabetes type II study

The report, which is relatively basic and focused on a small number of people, concludes that of the 368 children and adolescents who were registered with diabetes between January 1992 and December 2009, 26% of them were diagnosed before the age of 15. This is a very worrying trend and one which the Indian authorities believe could develop unless major investment is made in this specific area.

The very fact that children as young as seven years of age are now being diagnosed with type II diabetes is something which the wider world should be aware of. Historically this particular condition has been more prevalent in those over 40 years of age although slowly but surely this age bracket is reducing. Diabetes type II is more prevalent in those in their 30s and in their 20s in the developed world than ever before with the massive jump to under 15s suggesting that not enough is being done around the world.

What is the split between boys and girls?

Of the 368 children and adolescent patients registered with type II diabetes between January 1992 and December 2009 a worrying 200 were young girls. As yet there is no concrete theory as to why young girls seem to be more susceptible to the condition than young boys although due to the very narrow base group of just 368 people this may just be something of a statistical anomaly. However, there is no doubt that more work needs to be done sooner rather than later because if there is a reason why young girls are more susceptible than young boys then action needs to be taken.

Contributing factors

There seem to be a number of contributing factors as to why young children are now susceptible to type II diabetes as well as type I diabetes. Of those susceptible to type II diabetes it was found that both parents were usually suffering from the condition and the children involved had a higher body mass index than average. While there was no doubt that obesity is a major contributing factor to the development of type II diabetes it does seem as though other factors are now coming into play.

Standard of living

In direct contradiction to what you may assume without looking into the situation further, the increase in type II diabetes amongst children is more prevalent in those who have a higher standard of living and indeed the number of sufferers in private schools continues to rise. This would suggest that young children from more privileged backgrounds are not adhering to a healthy diet and we can automatically assume that their exercise regime is not what it should be.

This is an issue which the Indian authorities have been looking into for some time now and as the country continues to expand financially, with economic growth far in excess of the average worldwide growth in recent times, more and more families are now seeing an increase in their annual income. It does seem as though the Indian authorities need to “guide” the overall population with regards to the threat of diabetes, both type I and type II, because while initially many people automatically assumed this was a “lower income class” problem, this is not the case.

It is difficult to understand why those from more affluent families in India seem to be more susceptible in their earlier years. On the surface they would appear to have sufficient income to have a healthy diet, sufficient income to improve their exercise regime and sufficient knowledge to understand the risks of type II diabetes in particular. There is some concern that food manufacturers across the world do have a part to play in the increased risk of type II diabetes amongst children but at the end of the day does the buck not stop with parents?

Type I diabetes

Historically the Indian population has been more susceptible to type I diabetes due to the fact that this is traditionally hereditary. However, over the last few years the instances of type II diabetes have become more commonplace and type II diabetes is now set to become the more common of the two conditions in children and adolescents. There are a number of theories as to why this particular issue is now rearing its ugly head which need to be addressed as soon as possible.

General opinion

It is becoming more and more obvious that diabetes, especially diabetes type II, is in many ways directly linked to the relative income per family. While you may automatically assume that those on higher incomes would be able to afford a more healthy diet and a more balanced exercise regime, this does not seem to be the case. The Indian authorities also expects instances of type II diabetes to become more prevalent in the “lower income classes” in the years ahead which could bring about the doomsday scenario which many people have been predicting for some time.


The reality that more and more children across India are now developing type II diabetes in their early years is a major concern with instances of children as young as seven developing the condition. The fact it is becoming more commonplace amongst students in “private schools” is also a worrying factor as diabetes is now more associated with the higher income classes as opposed to those on lower incomes.

The Indian authorities have made plans for a blanket screening of the overall population and while this will cost a significant amount of money it will certainly pay great dividends in the future. More work needs to be done into the reasons why type II diabetes is now more prevalent in specific areas of the population and why indeed it seems to be attacking younger and younger children each year.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com 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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