Childhood Obesity Ups Type 2 Diabetes Risk By Four-fold

Childhood obesity may put children at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life, and this risk is four-fold in obese children compared to children with a normal body mass index (BMI), UK scientists suggest.

In their research, the scientists showed that obese kids face four times the odds of developing this chronic condition by the age of 25 versus those with a BMI in the normal range.

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition affecting a stupendous number of children worldwide. Children who are well above the healthy weight for their age and height are considered obese, and this excess body fat adversely affects a child’s health and overall well-being.

Now adding to this growing evidence, Researchers from King’s College London linked childhood obesity to type 2 diabetes risk.

“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 study author Dr Ali Abbasi, Ph.D., from King’s College London.

“A child with obesity faces a four-fold greater risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by age 25 than a counterpart who is normal weight.”

Dr Abbasi and colleagues came up with this discovery following a large-scale analysis of data on diabetes and obesity rates among British children.

For the study, the team drew data from 375 general practices between 1994 and 2013, which included 369,362 children between the ages of 2 and 15. After examining BMI measurements, diabetes diagnosis records, and other relevant data, the team found that 654 children and teenagers were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the period.

In addition, the research team found that the rate of children developing Type-2 diabetes rose from an average of six new cases per 100,000 children each year between 1994 and 1998, to an
average of 33 new cases per 100,000 children each year, between 2009 and 2013.

The risk appeared to increase in both overweight and obese participants, the team observed that obese children were four times more likely than those in the normal BMI category to develop the condition.

Researchers also found that 1,318 children were diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes during the same period. However, they found no association between obesity and the incidence of type 1 diabetes.

Dr Abbasi explained: “Diabetes imposes a heavy burden on society as the condition is common and costly to treat. Estimates indicate one in 11 adults has type 2 diabetes, equal to around 415 million people worldwide. 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.”

The findings were published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.