Type 2 diabetes, usually seen in adults, has started affecting a large number of children in the UK.
When children are affected by type 2 diabetes, the cells in the child’s body don’t respond to the insulin. As a result, glucose builds up in their bloodstream, building an insulin resistance. This leads to sugar levels in the body getting too high to be handled.
The Figures for England and Wales reveal that 533 children and young people are now diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is an increase of about 6% from the year before.
However, the number for children affected by diabetes only constitutes about 2% of all child diabetes. Most of the children are affected by type 1 diabetes.
The Local Government Association said that the number of children being affected is still too much.
Data from the National Child Measurement Programme, an annual spot-check of the heights and weights of children in English primary schools, shows that one in 10 four- and five-year-olds and one in five 10 and 11-year-olds are suffering from obesity.
Type 2 diabetes
Even though type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1 diabetes, it is rarely found in children. It is usually witnessed in adults and is mostly associated with obesity.
The Local Government Association, the body that represents hundreds of individual councils with responsibility for public health, believes that the cases in children will continue to rise unless firm steps are taken in the English government’s awaited childhood obesity strategy.
Childhood obesity strategy
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, from the LGA, said,
“This is a wake-up call for the nation as the government faces a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take radical game-changing action in its forthcoming childhood obesity strategy.
“We cannot afford to delay any longer.”
The LGA has called for measures such teaspoon sugar labeling, reduction of sugar content in fizzy drinks, greater provision of tap water in schools and restaurants to prevent children from having sugary drinks and for councils to be given powers to ban junk food advertising near schools, to be included in the childhood obesity strategy.
The government has repeatedly postponed the publication of its action plan. It is expected to be now released this summer.
A Department of Health official said,
“We are determined to tackle obesity, and our comprehensive childhood obesity strategy will build on measures we are already taking, like the soft drinks industry levy.
“The strategy will look at everything that contributes to a child becoming overweight and set out what more can be done by all.”
Helen Dickens, of Diabetes UK, said people needed help to make healthier choices and lead healthier lives.
“Type 2 diabetes typically develops in adults over the age of 40, so it is extremely worrying that we are seeing more young people develop the condition,” she said.
“Although there are a number of risk factors for type 2 diabetes, some of which are out of our control, one of the most important risk factors is being overweight or obese, which we can do something about.
“That is why it is so essential that the government publishes its childhood obesity strategy to help make it as easy as possible.”