Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Young Adults

Newly published statistics show that nearly 7,000 children and adults aged under 25 in the UK have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The onset of Type 2 Diabetes is strongly associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, lack of exercise and high calorie (high sugar) diets. In recent decades, countries such as USA and UK have seen large increases in the number of people with type 2 diabetes. Most of these cases have been among older people but we are now also seeing an increasing number of cases of Type 2 Diabetes among younger people.

Reversing the increase in Type 2 Diabetes is not easy. It requires action by individuals, and also by governments and societies. For individuals, it is important that people eat a healthy, balanced diet that is not too high in calories, and not high in refined carbohydrates and sugars. Dietary changes need to be combined with regular exercise to keep weight down to healthy levels, thereby reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A number of people with established type 2 diabetes have reversed their condition through measures such as dieting and exercise. This shows even if an individual has Type 2 Diabetes, they can resolve this through appropriate lifestyle measures.

Measures taken by individuals need to be backed by measures targeting the entire population. This can include for example, ‘sugar taxes’ on high-calorie drinks to encourage individuals to consume them less and to encourage manufacturers to produce lower calorie version of these drinks. Calorie labelling of food can also help people make suitable choices about their diets. We also need measures to encourage physical activity, for example, making it easier and safer for people to cycle and walk rather than using cars.

It’s important that regular exercise and healthy diets are introduced at a young age. Hence, nurseries, schools, colleges and universities also have an important role to play in addressing the causes of Type 2 Diabetes.

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