New data reveals true extent of the number of children living with type 2 diabetes

This is an alarming wakeup call, as type 2 diabetes is known to be more serious in children. Also worrying is the news that only 30% of children who live with the condition are receiving the care they need to live well with diabetes.
five children sat on a bench with backs to camera

The Young People with Type 2 Diabetes Report, published today by NHS digital, reveals that 1560 children and young people (18 and under) in England have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Though other factors such as ethnicity play an important role, obesity and overweight is thought to be behind the rising number of children with the condition.

Getting the right care

Worryingly, the new report also reveals that children diagnosed with type 2 are not receiving the care they need to manage their condition. Only 30% have access to the right support. When people don’t get the care they need, it can lead to serious complications. Getting the right care is vital for everyone who lives with diabetes, but it's particularly important for those diagnosed under 18.

This is because the condition is known to be more serious in children. If they don't get the right support, it can lead to serious complications, including kidney failure and heart disease, later in life. If left untreated, the condition can be severe, but if those diagnosed get the specialist care and support they need, it's possible for them to live well and avoid complications. 

Overweight and obesity

Alarmingly, previous data shows that nearly a third (30%) of children aged two to 15 years are currently living with obesity or overweight . Research shows that this is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and could be behind the increase in cases across the country. 

What next 

Diabetes UK believe the NHS, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and the Government all have a role to play in tackling the crisis. It’s essential that they provide better care, and find innovative ways of reducing overweight and obesity in under-18s. 

They are calling for: 

  • The NHS to prioritise developing specialist services designed to support children and young people living with type 2 diabetes. 
  • NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) to review and reinforce their guidelines and make sure they explain clearly that children living with type 2 diabetes must receive the same level of specialist care that children with type 1 receive. 
  • The Government must work harder to tackle childhood obesity. The suggested restrictions on junk food marketing for children are a good start, but more must be done. Fat and sugar levels in foods need to be reduced and healthier food must be more accessible for everyone. 

Chris Askew OBE, our Chief Executive said:

It is shocking for even one child to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but to see nearly 1600 children living with the condition is a sad indictment of the health of our nation.

"These new figures are a worrying wakeup call. The environment we live in is a major contributing factor to rising levels of childhood obesity, and in turn type 2 diabetes. Far more needs to be done to improve the environment in which we live in, to help us all to make healthier choices and consequently, to stop cases from increasing further.

We also need to ensure that children already living with type 2 diabetes have access to specialist support as soon as possible. Not least to minimise the risk of serious medical complications in early adulthood".

Find out more about supporting your child if they’ve been diagnosed with, or are at risk of type 2 diabetes.

The Diabetes UK Helpline is available for anyone seeking help and advice: Diabetes UK Helpline | Diabetes UK

0345 123 2399, Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm

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