An Epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes in Kids

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics are calling the alarming rise of type 2 diabetes among children an epidemic.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops in middle or old age, but now pediatricians are seeing type 2 in children as young as 4. Experts warn that more children will develop type 2 as the U.S. population becomes increasingly overweight. The trend has prompted both the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatrics to publish guidelines on the prevention, treatment and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in children in the March issues of both Diabetes Care and Pediatrics.

According to Diabetes Dateline, children who are most susceptible have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Of African-American, Alaskan, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander, or Hispanic descent
  • Between ages 6 and 9 (according to the Diabetes Dateline); 10 or older (according to the ADA)
  • Female
  • Centrally distributed body fat (“apple-shaped” body). In an Arkansas study, 85 percent of 8- to 12-year-old type 2 African-American children had a body mass index (BMI)* of 25 or higher
  • No recent weight loss
  • No acute symptoms of hyperglycemia
  • A family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Have acanthosis nigricans (AN)-patches of brownish-black skin usually found on the back of the neck, in the armpits or on the thighs. This is usually indicative of high levels of insulin, making it type 2 diabetes rather than type 1. AN is especially common among Native Americans and less common in whites.

* The BMI is equal to a person’s body weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared.

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