America’s epidemic of children with type 2 diabetes

With the number of children suffering from type 2 diabetes growing at an alarming rate, physicians gathered Saturday to discuss strategies for prevention and treatment of the disease among children and adolescents at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 18th Annual Meeting & Clinical Congress.

"Type 2 diabetes is extremely complex," said A. Jay Cohen, MD, FACE, session moderator and pediatric endocrinologist. "The rapid rise in obesity, physical inactivity and the consumption of excessive calories seems to have led to the epidemic of children with type 2 diabetes."

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is conducting two clinical trials in order to identify the children at risk for type 2 diabetes and to demonstrate the effectiveness of lifestyle intervention among youth. The first trial, HEALTHY, is following a group of about 6,400 children through middle school, from sixth to eighth grade, to determine if modifications in exercise programs and nutrition in the school environment can reduce the risk of children having the disease. Researchers are tracking the youth's body mass indices (BMIs), fasting glucose levels and fasting insulin levels to show the health benefits of lifestyle adjustments. TODAY, the second trial, is exploring the best treatment options for children with type 2 diabetes.

"It is imperative to expose the social, behavioral and environmental factors which have led to this epidemic," said Francine R. Kaufman, MD, pediatric endocrinologist and Study Chair of both trials.

Children with type 2 diabetes may be afflicted with other conditions associated with type 2 diabetes, including obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol), and potential risks of infertility such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. These youth also have an increased risk of developing long-term complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

With results from the HEALTHY trial anticipated to be released this fall, Dr. Kaufman remains optimistic: "The research from these trials will allow us to identify and implement the necessary lifestyle changes that will ultimately foster the health and well-being of not only those at risk but generations of children to come."

For more information about diabetes, download the American College of Endocrinology's (ACE) "Power of Prevention" Magazine here. The magazine features medical information on prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, diabetes complications, and tips on how diabetes patients can best prepare for disaster.

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