Increased type 2 diabetes rates in UK children, study reveals

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The number of type 2 diabetes diagnoses among children in the UK continues to rise, particularly among girls and South Asians, a study reports.
Researchers compared type 2 diabetes rates in children under the age of 17 years with data from 10 years ago. Overall rates were shown to be higher but not significantly higher statistically.
A total of 106 cases were reported between April 2015-April 2016, which remains considerably less common than diagnoses of type 1 diabetes in children.
Children of non-white ethnicity, particularly South Asians, were shown to be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white children, which continues a long-known trend of South Asians carrying a higher type 2 risk.
South Asian children were four times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than the general population of children, while black/African/Caribbean British children were 2.3 times more likely to be diagnosed.
Obesity is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and 81% of the children diagnosed with type 2 were obese. Children of South Asian ethnicity were shown to have significantly lower BMI scores compared to white children, which reflects similar trends in adult diagnoses of type 2 in South Asians.
A total of 67% of diagnoses were girls, and 81% of those diagnosed having a family history of type 2 diabetes, with researchers noting both factors as strongly associated with the condition.
The data was extracted from the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit, with cases reported monthly during the 10-year review period.
Type 2 diabetes cases are still rare in children, but these findings are indicative that more work needs to be done to combat rising rates and improve children’s health across the UK.
Last year a separate report from the Local Government Association (LGA) found that more than 600 children and young people (under 25 years of age) in England and Wales were treated for type 2 diabetes between 2016-2017.
Whilst rates of type 2 diabetes are rising in children, the condition is preventable. Adults and children alike can make great strides towards getting blood sugar levels back to normal without the need for lifelong medication.
Cutting out highly processed foods and sugary food and drink can go a long way towards improving health. Taking simple steps towards increasing physical activity, such as walking for 30 minutes each day, can make a big difference when maintained as part of a child’s normal lifestyle.
The study results appear online in the journal Diabetic Medicine.