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Child type 2 diabetes is a ‘wake-up call’ to the nation

Government must take radical action on child obesity to tackle rising prevalence of T2D

Louise Prime

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The shocking number of children in the UK with type 2 diabetes will continue to rise even further unless the Government takes bold action in its childhood obesity strategy, councils warned this morning. They said the rise in the disease’s prevalence should be a ‘wake-up call’ to the nation.

The Local Government Association (LGA) called for concerted action to tackle the increasing problem of child overweight and obesity – the single biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which is usually seen only in adults. It pointed out that the most recent data from the council-funded Child Measurement Programme in schools found that one in ten 4-5-year-old children and one in five 10-11 year olds are already obese.

Recent figures from the National Paediatric Diabetes Audit (NPDA) 2014/15, published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), showed that 533 children and young people aged 0-19 years in the UK, including 11 aged nine or under, have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Coinciding with Diabetes Week, the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils with responsibility for public health, says this number will continue to rise unless radical action is taken in the Government’s childhood obesity strategy. It has previously called for the childhood obesity strategy to include teaspoon sugar labelling and a reduction of sugar content in fizzy drinks; greater provision of tap water in schools and restaurants; and for councils to be given powers to ban junk food advertising near schools.

LGA Community Wellbeing spokeswoman, Councillor Izzi Seccombe, said: “Obesity is usually linked with major health conditions later on in life, but already, we are seeing the early consequences of child obesity, with more and more children developing type 2 diabetes as a result. Type 2 diabetes is normally associated with adults, so it is a major concern that we are seeing this in children and teenagers.

“This is a wake-up call for the nation as the Government faces a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take radical game-changing action in its forthcoming childhood obesity strategy. We cannot afford to delay any longer.”

RCPCH member Dr Justin Warner, who is clinical lead for the NDPA, commented: “With a third of 10 year olds either overweight or obese in the UK, it has become increasingly common to see children and young people developing type 2 diabetes.

“The Government must act now before this becomes the norm. The long awaited childhood obesity strategy will go some way in doing this however it must offer clear and bold solutions. This includes more research into prevention of obesity as well as making personal, social and health education a statutory subject in all schools covering the importance of physical activity and nutrition for a healthy lifestyle.”

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