16 August 2005
The medical profession are warning of a rise in diabetes among teenagers because of the growing incidence of obesity.
Three girls and a boy, all severely overweight, are believed to be the first recorded cases of white children in Britain to be diagnosed with a type of diabetes usually only seen in adults over 40. There are diabetic children from ethnic minority groups which are more prone to the disease.
The doctors warned other health professionals to ensure targeted screening of obese children from families with a history of diabetes and called for more research into the true scale of childhood diabetes. That could mean an extra bill for the NHS since there are already an estimated 1.4m sufferers in Britai, with perhaps another 1m undiagnosed.
The charity Diabetes UK estimates that the health service spends about £5.2bn a year, 9% of the 2000 NHS budget, fighting diabetes and its complications, including heart, kidney and eye disease, strokes and foot problems. Three quarters of patients have type 2 diabetes, the type now found in the four children identified at two centres in south west England.