Alarm as childhood Type 2 diabetes rockets 50 per cent in five years

Henry Bodkin
The first cases of Type 2 diabetes in children were diagnosed less than 20 years ago - PA

The number of children and young people being treated for Type 2 diabetes has soared by nearly 50 per cent in just five years, new figures reveal.

The condition is closely linked to poor lifestyle, and experts today said the new data  sheds light on the UK’s “shocking” rise in childhood obesity.

Obtained by the Local Government Association (LGA), the figures show there were almost 750 cases of Type 2 diabetes in those aged under 25 who received care from Paediatric Diabetes Units in 2017-18.

The first cases of Type 2 diabetes in children were diagnosed less than 20 years ago.

The research showed that more girls than boys received treatment, and they were more likely to be from a non-white or deprived background.

Some 45 per cent had high blood pressure, and 34 per cent exceeded the higher target for total blood cholesterol levels.

The latest data shows an increase of 47 per cent on the 507 cases from 2013-14, which is also up by 30 cases from 715 in 2016-17.

However, as these figures only relate to those treated in paediatric practice, and not for example, primary care, the actual number of young people with Type 2 diabetes is likely to be even higher.

Type 2 diabetes can lead to a range of serious health problems such as blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 is largely preventable and is closely linked to lifestyle, such as unhealthy eating or lack of exercise.

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, said: "Childhood obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges we face and these figures are yet another sad indictment of how we have collectively failed as a society to tackle it.”