Obese children ‘four times more likely’ to develop Type 2 diabetes

An overweight child

An overweight child

Obese children are at four times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, warns new research.

And the rate of children developing type 2 diabetes in Britain is more than five time higher than it was less than 20 years ago as the nation's obesity crisis worsens.

The study shows that obese kids face quadruple the chance of developing type 2 diabetes by the age of 25 compared to children with a body mass index (BMI) in the normal range.

Researchers from King's College London looked at electronic health records from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, to pull data from 375 general practices.

They examined BMI measurements, diabetes diagnosis records, and other figures from 369,362 children between the ages of two and 15.

They found that 654 children and teenagers were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between 1994 and 2013.

The researchers also found that the rate of children developing type 2 diabetes increased from an average of six new cases per 100,000 children each year between 1994 and 1998, to an average of 33 new cases per 100,000 children each year, between 2009 and 2013.

Study lead author Dr Ali Abbasi, of King's College London, said: "As the prevalence of obesity and being overweight has rapidly risen, an increasing number of children and young adults have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK since the early 1990s.

"A child with obesity faces a four-fold greater risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by the age of 25, than their counterpart who is of normal weight.

"Diabetes imposes a heavy burden on society as the condition is common and costly to treat.

"Estimates indicate one in 11 adults has type 2 diabetes, equal to around 415 million people worldwide.

"Given that diabetes and obesity are preventable from early life, our findings and other research will hopefully motivate the public and policymakers to invest and engage in diabetes prevention efforts."

The researchers also found that 1,318 children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during the same period.

They found no association between obesity and the incidence of type 1 diabetes, which is linked to an underlying autoimmune disorder.

Dr Abbasi said criteria to determine obesity in the study was dependent on the child's age - obesity was classified as having a BMI in the top five per cent of the population for their age, as measured by a 1990 study of UK children.

The findings were published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.