Type 2 diabetes rise in children ‘a public health time bomb’

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More than 600 children and teenagers are being treated for type 2 diabetes in England and Wales, an alarming increase of 14 per cent in a year.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says the continuing rise in cases of Type 2 diabetes in children is “a hugely disturbing trend” and an important reminder of one of the biggest public health challenges the country faces.

The figures come from a report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health which found over 600 children and young people under the age of 25 received care for Type 2 diabetes of which 78 per cent were also obese.

 This is an increase of 76, 14%, on the numbers for the previous year.

15 of the youngest children affected are aged between five and nine. Type 2 diabetes is normally only seen in adults aged over 40.

Rob Percival, Senior Policy Officer at Food for Life commented:

“Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with a poor diet and obesity, represents a public health time bomb. It’s shocking that a disease normally only seen in adults over the age of 40 is on the rise among children. These figures should send a wake-up call to government – they highlight the extreme short-sightedness of the unfolding cuts to local authority public health budgets, which fund programmes like Food for Life. Over 10% of the NHS budget is already spent treating diabetes – now, more than ever, the Government needs to invest in prevention, or else this figure will rise. If every primary school in England was a Food for Life school, 1 million more children would be eating their 5-a-day and growing up in a school environment in which it is normal, easy and enjoyable to eat well. The question government should be asking is: Can we afford not to invest in child health?”

An enhanced version of the Food for Life programme programme is available for commissioning to support health and wellbeing priorities across the country. We are already achieving clear results in Local Authorities throughout England, find out more here