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Obesity in Kids Quadruples Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Study Finds

Mary Caffrey
The study from King's College of London is the latest to sound the alarm about rising incidence of type 2 diabetes among youth.
A study of English children found that obesity quadruples the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), adding to the recent evidence that diabetes incidence is rising among youth as the obesity epidemic worsens.

The study from King’s College of London, appearing in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, examined data from nearly 370,000 children aged 2 to 15 years, whose body mass index (BMI) was measured between 1994 to 2013. During the study period, 654 children in the study developed diabetes, with incidence of T2D rising from 6.4 cases per 100,000 during the early part of the study (1994-1998) to 33.2 per 100,000 during the last 4 years of the study (2009-2013).

Over that same period, incidence of type 1 disease (T1D) increased but not as rapidly, from 38.2 cases per 100,000 to 52.1 cases per 100,000.

T2D increased in both overweight children and those who were obese during the 20-year period. Children who were obese accounted for 47.1% of all the T2D cases, and their risk of developing the disease was more than 4 times higher (incidence ratio of 4.33), compared with children of normal weight.

The data came from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Datalink, one the world’s largest primary care databases, covering more than 375 practices.

The results come on the heels of a recent study from the CDC, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found rapidly rising incidence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes among youth. Minority children had particularly high risk, the study found.

A claims study from FAIR Health, published earlier this year, also found rising numbers of children being treated for T2D and other obesity-related conditions. The authors noted their study was limited to commercial claims, leaving out poor children who are likely to be covered by Medicaid.

“As the prevalence of obesity and being overweight has rapidly risen, an increasing number of children and young adults have been diagnosed with diabetes in the United Kingdom since the early 1990s,” said lead author Ali Abbasi, MD, PhD, in a statement. “A child with obesity faces a four-fold greater risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by the age of 25, than their counterpart who is of normal weight.”

Abbasi repeated the message from a study by Cleveland Clinic, where researchers reported last week that obesity is now causing more early deaths in the United States than cigarettes: T2D and obesity are largely preventable.

“Given that diabetes and obesity are preventable from early life, our findings and other research will hopefully motivate the public and policymakers to invest and engage in diabetes prevention efforts,” he said.

Reference

Abbasi A, Juszczyk D, van Jaarsveld CHM, Gulliford MC. Body mass index and incident type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children and young adults: a retrospective cohort study. J Endocr Soc. 2017; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1210/js.2017-00044.

 
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