Childhood obesity drives surge in type 2 diabetes among young

13 Jul 19

Cases of type two diabetes in children and young people in England and Wales have soared by 47% in the last five years, according to new research released by the Local Government Association today.

The number of people under 25 years old needing treatment for a disease normally found in adults rose from 507 cases in 2013-14 to 745 in 2017-18, according to an analysis of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health data.

The first cases of Type 2 diabetes in children were diagnosed less than 20 years ago.

The rise in cases is for patients treated in specialist paediatric practices rather than those in primary care,  so the real number is likely to be higher.

The LGA described the rise as “extremely worrying” and urged the government to use the forthcoming Spending Review to reverse the £700m cut to councils’ public health funding over the past five years.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is largely preventable and is linked to lifestyle and diet. It can lead to a variety of health issues including blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

Obesity is the single greatest risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

There were proportionally more girls, those of non-white ethnicity, and those living in the most deprived areas among those with type 2 diabetes, according to the analysis.

The LGA revealed last year that 22,000 children are classed as severely obese – the most overweight scale – when they leave primary school.

Ian Hudspeth, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “Childhood obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges we face and these figures are yet another sad indictment of how we have collectively failed as a society to tackle it.”

He added: “It is extremely worrying that we are seeing more young people develop type 2 diabetes, a condition which is rare in children and more typically develops in adults over the age of 40.”

Hudspeth commented: “Being overweight or obese is one of the key risk factors in this, which is preventable and councils are uniquely placed to do something about this.”

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