Childhood Obesity Multiplies Diabetes Risk By Four

| May 12, 2017

The UK has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Europe, with one in every three 10-year-olds being overweight or obese. And, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post here the Government’s childhood obesity strategy doesn’t look capable of changing this sad state of affairs any time soon.

Of course, being overweight or obese raises the odds of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes – and now, a large-scale analysis of diabetes and obesity rates among British children puts a precise figure on that increased risk. Childhood obesity raises the chance of type 2 diabetes four-fold, compared to children with a normal body mass index (BMI).

Scientists at King’s College London used data from 375 UK general practices between 1994 and 2013, about 370,000 children aged from two to 15 years. During the period studied, 654 of the children developed type 2 diabetes and 1318 type 1.

The data showed that, by 2009-2013, the incidence of type 2 diabetes in children and young adults had risen to five times its 1994-1998 level. And it revealed that an obese child faces more than four times a normal-weight child’s risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by the age of 25.

These stark findings underline the need for urgent action at every level, to combat the ongoing explosion of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children. The Government needs to get much tougher with the junk food, confectionery and fizzy drinks industries – and those industries must show they have a social conscience and act responsibly.

At the same time, parents, grandparents and other family members have a responsibility to set a good example to children and to not use sweets and chocolate as treats, bribes or rewards. And schools have a role to play, too, in encouraging healthy eating and physical activity for all pupils.

Schools are letting down children with diabetes

With more and more school-age children having type 1 or 2 diabetes, schools also need to recognise just what this means in terms of health and safety. That is the conclusion of a recent report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diabetes.2 As the group’s chairman, Keith Vaz MP, pointed out, children spend a third of their lives at school and those with diabetes need to have their condition managed properly while they are there.

The report – which you can download here – reveals that, in many schools, staff are unaware of common safety risks associated with diabetes and the medications used to treat it. For instance, the altered behaviour of a child with diabetes who is having a hypoglycaemic attack could be mistaken for naughtiness or attention-seeking. In many instances, children going through a medical emergency of this kind were not looked after and were even sent to walk home alone.

Since 2015, schools in England have had a duty of care for children with medical conditions and should have taken steps to implement it. But the report shows, shockingly, that only one school in nine has done so. If you have a school-age child with diabetes, it may be time to ask their head teacher some tough questions.

In my next blog post, I look at new evidence that people with type 1 diabetes have altered gut bacteria and a typical pattern of gut inflammation – and that hot chilli peppers could offer an unlikely source of help.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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  1. Abbasi A, Juszczyk D, van Jaarsveld C, Gulliford M. Body mass index and incident type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children and young adults: a retrospective cohort study. J Endocr Soc. 2017 April 25 (Online ahead of print).
  2. All Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes. Safety and inclusion of children with medical conditions at school. April 2017
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Category: Obesity and Weight Loss

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