Story by: Norton Children's on December 14, 2022
Preventing or delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes in children can include small, simple changes to increase daily physical activity and eat a healthier diet. Even a small amount of weight loss can help prevent or delay diabetes.
In Kentucky, 23.8% of kids ages 10 to 17 are obese. That’s the highest obesity rate in the country among this age group, according to the State of Childhood Obesity: Helping All Children Grow Up Healthy project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Obesity puts kids at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Weight gain and physical inactivity cause the body to need more insulin to process sugar for energy, a condition called insulin resistance. At first, the body is able to make higher amounts of insulin, but over time may not be able to keep up. When the body isn’t able to make enough insulin for all of the sugar to enter the cells, the sugar builds up in the blood, leading to Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes was thought to be very rare in children before the 1990s. In fact, it was so rare that Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes. Unfortunately, Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents is no longer rare. And studies show that Type 2 diabetes in children progresses more rapidly and is harder to treat than in adults.
Poorly controlled diabetes significantly increases risks for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, eye conditions, nerve damage, amputation and kidney failure. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk for these complications. That means children who develop diabetes may experience complications much earlier in life than those diagnosed as adults.
The good news is that there are ways to lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute offers specialized care for children and young adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
To help children reach and maintain a healthy weight, specialists at Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, recommend the following:
Children with Type 2 diabetes often do not feel differently. However, these are some common symptoms:
If you notice any of these, contact your child’s pediatrician.
Reviewed by Sara E. Watson, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist with Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine
It’s a place for kids and teens with Type 1 diabetes and their families to turn for support, education and fellowship.