Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Experts: Most Type 2 Diabetes Can Be Stopped In Childhood

“An increasing number of children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a condition medical experts blame on a culture steeped in junk food and inactivity that has led to more obese kids. Aggressive early treatment and lifestyle changes can help, and even snuff out disease symptoms, but more sweeping health care system changes, including better health insurance for older teens and people in their 20s, are required for young diabetics to age into healthy older adults, experts say. ‘It's really stunning how the percentages for type 2 diabetes are going up in younger and younger Americans. Clearly, diabetes is following obesity, and both have huge ramifications on long-term health,’ says Siri Atma Greeley, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center. About 150,000 children in the USA have been diagnosed with diabetes, most with type 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the number of children with type 2 diabetes has been rising steadily in the past decade, says Ann Albright with the CDC. About 3,700 youth were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes from 2002 to 2003 — that's about five in every 100,000 children, according to the CDC. Type 2 is especially affecting Hispanic, African American and American Indian youth. Why a child's body stops using insulin properly — called insulin sensitivity — isn't clear, but Sothern says her government-funded study suggests a child's current body fat is the strongest predictor of poor insulin sensitivity. While the majority of chubby kids don't get diabetes, if a child has a family history, or a mother who had gestational diabetes was obese while pregnant or did not breast-feed, they can be at risk, Sothern says. You top that with high-calorie, high-fat eating habits and a lack of exercise, and you can push an at-risk individual over the edge and into diabetes earlier in life, says Rebecca Lipton, associate professor in pediatric endocrinology at the University of Chicago.”


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