There are now more than 7,000 children and young adults under 25 with type 2 diabetes in England and Wales, according to Diabetes UK.
The charity’s figures are based on National Diabetes Audit for 2016-2017 data, which included data from 95% of GP surgeries across England and Wales.
The findings are concerning, but it is important to address that type 2 diabetes can be put into remission, and steps can be taken to reduce a person’s risk of the condition. Remission is when type 2 diabetes is well-controlled without the person needing to take diabetes medication.
The government launched a sugar tax earlier this year as part of its childhood obesity campaign, and further proposals have been made to reduce the amount of sugar children are exposed to. These include restricting advertising of unhealthy food to children on TV and online.
The audit data showed that 6,836 children and young people aged 25 or under are now receiving treatment for type 2 diabetes.
A previous report compiled by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health identified 715 children being treated for type 2 diabetes in paediatric diabetes units in England and Wales.
Type 2 diabetes is commonly associated with obesity and poor lifestyle, although the condition is also linked with genetics, which could help explain its development in children.
Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “We know that obesity contributes to the development of this and other serious health conditions, and with one in three children leaving primary school with excess weight or obesity, these findings are worrying but sadly not surprising.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The upcoming NHS long-term plan will have prevention at its core and build on our existing work to keep people healthy and well.”
Editor’s note: To avoid type 2 diabetes it is important to eat a healthy diet and cut down on sugar and processed foods, as well as getting regular exercise. Eating too much sugar and high carbohydrate foods such as burgers and chips can raise blood glucose levels, and this increases the risk of insulin resistance, a hallmark characteristic of type 2 diabetes development.