Rise of Type 2 diabetes in children

There has been an alarming rise in Type 2 diabetes in children – a condition where blood sugar is poorly controlled usually associated with older adults. More than 600 children and teenagers in England and Wales are being treated for this type of diabetes – an increase of 14 per cent in a year – which reinforces the need for urgent action on obesity.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils, says the continuing rise in cases of Type 2 diabetes in children is “a hugely disturbing trend” and an important reminder of one of the biggest public health challenges the country faces, ahead of the first anniversary of the publication of the Government’s childhood obesity plan.

While not every case of Type 2 diabetes is as a result of being overweight and obese, it is the single greatest risk factor.

While not every case of Type 2 diabetes is as a result of being overweight and obese, it is the single greatest risk factor.

According to figures for 2015/16 from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 621 children and young people under the age of 25 received care for Type 2 diabetes from Paediatric Diabetes Units in England and Wales, of which 78.5 per cent were also obese. Fifteen children with Type 2 were aged between five and nine. This is an increase of 76 on the number for 2014/15.
However as these figures only relate to those treated in paediatric practice, and not for example, primary care, the actual number of young people with Type 2 diabetes is likely to be even higher.

The LGA says this emphasises the urgency of stepping up efforts to tackle child obesity, with the “devastating consequences” already being seen at an early age. It is calling on the Government to – as a minimum – reverse the cuts to councils’ public health budgets of £531 million – a reduction of nearly 10 per cent over a five year period. This has impaired councils’ ability to tackle childhood obesity and prevent associated…

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