Published by BBC NEWS - 15th June 2022
Child obesityImage source, Getty Images

Doctors are seeing a “very concerning climb” in the number of children developing type-2 diabetes, a charity is warning.

Diabetes UK says high obesity levels could be to blame and poor diets linked to the cost of living crisis could make a bad situation even worse.

Data suggests the impact is being disproportionately seen in deprived regions of England and Wales.

Four in 10 young people with type-2 diabetes are from disadvantaged areas.

This compares with one out of every 19 in the most affluent.

More than one in 10 children is already obese by the time they are old enough to start school.

Being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of type-2 diabetes. Other risk factors include family history and ethnicity.

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What is diabetes?

Diabetes causes people to have too much sugar (glucose) in their blood.

Those with:

  • type 1 produce no insulin
  • type 2 produce insulin that is ineffective or an insufficient amount

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Diabetes UK analysis suggests a more than 50% increase in children registered with type 2 receiving treatment in paediatric diabetes units in England and Wales in the past five years:

  • 621 in 2015-16
  • 973 in 2020-21

Chief executive Chris Askew said: “With soaring numbers of children now living with obesity and numbers diagnosed with type-2 diabetes on a very concerning climb, we are facing a perfect storm which risks irreversible harm to the health of young people.

“We are very concerned that this spike in childhood obesity will translate into an even greater increase in children with type-2 diabetes in the coming years, a crisis fuelled by long-standing health inequalities and made worse still by impacts of the cost of living crisis.”

He urged the government to “rethink” its commitment to child health.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are taking urgent action to halve childhood obesity by 2030.

“This includes encouraging people to choose healthier food options through introducing calorie labelling in large restaurants, cafes and takeaways, supporting families through schemes such as Healthy Start, and rules on the placement of less healthy products in stores and online to help reduce children’s overconsumption.”

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