Children as young as 9 years old can already be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a metabolic condition that normally occurs among adults many years ago.
In Tauranga, New Zealand, at least four children with the disease had been supported by Diabetes Help. The youngest of them was 9 years old. The group believed, however, that more remain unaccounted for as they are being treated by other health care facilities. Overall, the country has already reported around 200 children below 18 years old with type 2 diabetes.
Around the Bay of Plenty region, around 12,000 people are living with type 2 diabetes believed to be due to poor choices of food and lifestyle.
In the United States, the rate of type 1 and type 2 diabetes has been increasing among the youth, according to National Diabetes Education Program report. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meanwhile, revealed that around 200,000 people 20 years old and below are already pre-diabetic, which means their glucose levels are higher than the general population but not excessive enough to be considered diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is different from type 1 diabetes, also referred to as juvenile diabetes since it can begin during childhood. The latter is characterized by non-production of insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar (glucose). Type 2 diabetes involves the abnormal production of the hormone and increased resistance of it, causing a high level of glucose in the blood that can lead to serious complications like nerve damage and kidney failure.
Since the disease is strongly linked to obesity, various health experts advise parents to encourage the maintenance of healthy weight among children by exercising and eating a diet that's high in fruits and vegetables and less on meat and processed food. Children must also be engaged in physical activities such as play.
Meanwhile, if the child is believed to have diabetes or the risk factors like obesity or a medical history of diabetes are present, he should be monitored so possible interventions are implemented promptly.