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Type 2 diabetes: 'Worrying' new data shows spike in child diabetes – how can I prevent it?


New data has revealed that nearly 1,600 children and teenagers under the age of 19 now have type 2 diabetes in England, sparking calls from charities for the Government to do more about childhood health and obesity. But there are ways you can help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing at home.

The Young People with Type 2 Diabetes report published for the first time by NHS Digital on Thursday said 122,780 children and young adults under the age of 40 had the condition between January 2019 and March last year.

Of these, 1,560, or around 1.3 percent, were aged under 19.

Diabetes UK warned the data “confirms a recent growing trend of serious health conditions related to obesity that are becoming more prevalent in a younger demographic than ever before”.

The charity added: “Type 2 diabetes is known to have more severe and acute consequences in children and, without the right treatment and support, can lead to serious complications that include kidney failure and heart disease in later years.

“Yet the report also reveals that children are not receiving the basic levels of care needed to manage their condition, despite how critical it is for them to have this support.”

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence chief executive Chris Askew said: “It is shocking for even one child to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but to see nearly 1,600 children living with the condition is a sad indictment of the health of our nation.

“These new figures are a worrying wake-up call. The environment we live in is a major contributing factor to rising levels of childhood obesity, and in turn type 2 diabetes.

“Far more needs to be done to improve the environment in which we live in, to help us all to make healthier choices and consequently to stop cases from increasing further.

“We also need to ensure that children already living with type 2 diabetes have access to specialist support as soon as possible. Not least to minimise the risk of serious medical complications in early adulthood.”

Children should be getting around 60 minutes of exercise a day.

This doesn’t mean you have to take them running or to the gym, and they should get a reasonable amount from break times at school.

Activities like walking, cycling, tennis, football, netball and other easily accessible sports clubs are great for upping your child’s daily exercise.

Keeping an eye on their diet is also key.

Cutting down on sugary snacks and desserts is essential, as well as providing healthy dinners and lunches.

Another way to manage a child’s weight efficiently is to have them eat at the same time each day.

If you think your child may be overweight and at risk for type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.

They can help you learn what your child’s weight goals should be and how to reach them.

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