Diagnoses of type 2 diabetes in kids on the rise

March 24, 2010

Overweight children face an array of health problems, with type 2 diabetes topping the list. At one time, type 2 diabetes was so rare in children it was called adult-onset diabetes. Today, physicians at Children’s Medical Center, like many doctors nationwide, are seeing more children with type 2 diabetes.

In Texas, type 2 diabetes is already the second most prevalent chronic disease in children, after asthma. While many children show no signs of diabetes, Texas requires school screenings for Acanthosis nigricans, an abnormal darkening of the skin that can be a precursor to the disease.

Fortunately, Children’s has programs called COACH (Center for Obesity and its Consequences in Health) and LEAN (Dean Foods Lifestyle, Exercise & Nutrition) that can help families combat diabetes.

In these programs, Children’s uses a systematic approach to evaluate and treat these children. Caregivers take detailed diet and exercise histories and make recommendations for lifestyle changes based on a child’s health needs. If type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the patient and his or her family are given diabetes education and appropriate medications and also may be referred to LEAN, a program for families that provides intensive weight-management therapy.

Watch a video of Dr. Jon Oden, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s, discussing type 2 diabetes. Find out why more children are showing symptoms of the disease and what you can do to prevent your child from having a diagnosis of diabetes.

Growing up overweight

Doctors estimate that 70 percent of overweight children will grow up to be overweight adults, and type 2 diabetes only complicates matters. “We’ll be treating them for multiple health issues when they’re in their mid-30s,” says Dr. Oden. “Their diabetes will lead to so many problems.” These can include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.

Does your child have a condition that you’d like to learn about? Ask us about it by emailing webmaster@childrens.com.

In addition to being overweight, risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Strong family history of diabetes
  • Gender – Females are more likely to get type 2 diabetes than males.
  • Acanthosis nigricans, an abnormal darkening of the skin that may be a precursor to the disease
  • African-American, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian origins