Thirty years ago, less than 2% of all kids with diabetes had type 2. Now it accounts for up to 45% of new diabetes cases in children!
The threat of diabetes complications grows with the amount of time a person has diabetes, so children and teens with type 2 are at risk for earlier and more severe medical issues.
Who is at risk?
As with adults, family history, as well as diet and exercise habits, play a role. Most children and teenagers with type 2 diabetes have a family member with the condition. Being overweight and going through puberty does not help.
Children with the following are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes:
• Family history of type 2 diabetes (including pregnancy-related diabetes)
• Racial or ethnic background with higher rates of diabetes, including Native American, African American, Hispanic American or Asian/Pacific Islander
• High blood pressure, high cholesterol, cysts on the ovaries or darkened “velvety” patches on skin
Overweight children 10 years and older with two of the three risk factors should be tested for diabetes every two years.
To prevent diabetes in those at risk, it is important that children and their families engage in regular exercise and eat a well-balanced diet. Limiting activities such as video games and TV watching, helps keep kids moving. Parents are role models for their kids so they should set a good example. Keeping kids active and encouraging healthy food choices can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, improve glucose control and promote their overall health.