Rising obesity leading to thousands of youngsters with type 2 diabetes, says charity

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The rising tide of obesity has led to thousands of youngsters having Type 2 diabetes, a charity has said.

Diabetes UK said that the number of children and young people with diabetes is the highest it has ever been.

The charity reported that 6,836 children and young adults have Type 2 diabetes in England and Wales, according to data from GP surgeries.

It said that the main driver behind the figures was the rise in obesity.

Other factors which could also play a part include a family history and ethnic background, it added.

Type 2 diabetes is much more aggressive in youngsters and complications of the disease - which can include blindness, amputations, heart disease and kidney failure - can appear earlier.

Diabetes UK warned that thousands more children and young people could be diagnosed with the condition over the coming years, as the latest figures on childhood obesity show that more than a third of children in England will be overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.

It has called for better specialist support for youngsters with the condition to help manage their illness and reduce their risk of serious complications.

Meanwhile, it backed proposals for a ban on junk food TV advertising aimed at children before 9pm, and to restrict supermarket price promotions for unhealthy foods.

Bridget Turner, director of policy and campaigns at Diabetes UK, said: “Type 2 diabetes can be devastating for children and young people.

“To help shape a future where fewer children develop the condition, we need continued commitment across society to create an environment that reduces obesity.

“We need to encourage healthy living by providing clear and easy-to-understand nutritional information about the products we are all buying, and protect children from adverts for foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

“At the same time, we must look after those who already have the condition so they can avoid serious complications such as amputations, sight loss, stroke and kidney failure.

“Children and young people with Type 2 diabetes should have access to expert treatment by healthcare professionals trained to manage and research the condition and the challenges it presents.”

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, added: “For many children, the development of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle changes, but this isn’t easy - they need support.

“That’s why we were pleased to see the ambitious proposals set out in Chapter 2 of the Childhood Obesity Plan - we urge the Government to maximise their impact by introducing them all and doing so quickly.”