Childhood obesity can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes four-fold compared to children with a normal BMI, research suggests.
UK scientists made this discovery following a large-scale analysis of diabetes and obesity rates among British children.
“As the prevalence of obesity and being overweight has rapidly rise, an increasing number of children and young adults have been diagnosed with diabetes in the United Kingdom since the early 1990s,” said study author Dr Ali Abbasi, Ph.D., 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.”
As part of the research, data was taken from 375 general practices between 1994 and 2013, which included 369,362 youths aged between two and 15 years. The study team then examined health markers such as BMI and diabetes diagnosis records.
A total of 654 children and teenagers were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, with youths accounting for nearly half of type 2 diabetes cases.
No association was observed between having a higher a BMI and the development of type 1 diabetes, although researchers want to investigate more about this relationship in future studies.
Abbasi and colleagues highlighted that their findings are consistent with existing literature, and hope they will help inform more targeted management of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“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,” he said.
“Our results will add value to the research which informs policy makers to identify emerging healthcare needs and how to prioritise future clinical studies for targeted management of childhood obesity and diabetes.”
The study was published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

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