Child health experts say the number of under-25s being treated for Type 2 diabetes has risen by just over 40% in four years.
What do the latest figures show?
The number of young people being treated for Type 2 diabetes has risen by 41% in four years, according to research by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). The statistics show 715 people under the age of 25 received care for Type 2 diabetes from specialist paediatric units in England and Wales in 2016/17.
Why is this happening?
The condition, most commonly seen in adults, occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels and can be linked to obesity. Of the children and young people treated at the units nearly 80% were also obese.
What are the experts saying?
RCPCH president Professor Russell Viner said the rise in Type 2 diabetes is “alarming” and shows “the childhood obesity epidemic is starting to bite”. Kathryn Kirchner, clinical adviser at Diabetes UK, said the figures are a “stark reminder” that action has to be taken.
What are public health officials doing?
Eustace de Sousa, from Public Health England (PHE), said the rise highlights why “bold measures” are needed to tackle childhood obesity. He said change “won’t happen overnight” and PHE is working with the industry to make food healthier, as well as carrying out campaigns to raise awareness. It has also produced guidance for councils on planning healthier towns.
What are councils saying?
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, has urged the Government to boost investment and to provide specialist support for the most severely obese children. Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said the figures are a “sad indictment of how we have collectively failed as a society to tackle childhood obesity”.
What is the Government doing?
The Department of Health and Social Care said it is “determined” to halve childhood obesity by 2030. It has already introduced measures like the sugar tax. The Government claims the equivalent of 45 million kilogrammes of sugar has been removed from soft drinks every year. Meanwhile its childhood obesity plan aims to get children exercising more in schools and to reduce their exposure to sugary and fatty foods.