Obesity rates are continuing to rise among both children and adults worldwide. Obesity is a risk factor for development of a variety of complications, including type 2 diabetes, and an increase in the rates of such obesity-associated diseases has been seen among adults. However, a review article in the May issue of The Journal of Pediatrics reports that the rate of type 2 diabetes among children worldwide also appears to have increased significantly over the last 15 years.
Weight gain, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise reduce the action of insulin--a hormone that allows sugar to enter cells where it can be used for energy--a condition called insulin resistance. Initially, the body compensates for the resistance by increasing production. However, over time the ability of the pancreas to increase production doesnt keep up and blood sugar begins to rise, leading eventually to type 2 diabetes.
Orit Pinhas-Hamiel, M.D. of Sheba Medical Center in Israel and Philip Zeitler, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of Colorado reviewed articles and reports on type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents between 1978 and 2004. Although the review is limited to published data only, they found that type 2 diabetes accounts for up to 45% of new cases among adolescents. The authors cite higher percentages in areas such as New York, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Canada.
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