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Severe obesity linked to higher diabetes risk in children, adolescents

Elaine Soliven
22 Jun 2017

Severe obesity in children and adolescents may increase the risk of developing youth-onset diabetes, according to a study presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions held in San Diego, California, US.

“The rising incidence of diabetes in youth and young adults is related to the epidemic of childhood obesity and is largely driven by the increase in severe degrees of obesity in youth,” said lead author Dr Madhumita Sinha from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Phoenix, Arizona, US.

The researchers conducted a longitudinal study to determine type 2 diabetes risks among obese and severely obese American Indian population over a 43-year period from 1965 to 2007. Participants who were nondiabetic at baseline were divided into two groups: aged 5 to <10 years (children; n=2,728, mean age, 8 years) and aged 10 to <18 years (adolescents; n=4,317, mean age, 14.1 years). Diabetes that developed before the age of 20 was defined as “youth-onset” and before the age of 45 as “early adulthood”. [ADA 2017, abstract 12-OR]

Among the children cohort, youth-onset diabetes was observed in 98 subjects over 10.8 years of median follow-up and early adulthood diabetes was seen in 543 subjects after 13.7 years of median follow-up.

Among the adolescent cohort, youth-onset diabetes was noted in 111 subjects at 5.5 years of median follow-up and early adulthood diabetes was identified in 111 subjects after 12.1 years of median follow-up.

The researchers found that with increasing severity of obesity, the incidence rates of type 2 diabetes also increased with children and adolescents whose BMIs were ≥40 percent above the reference level defining obesity had 10- to 18-fold greater incidence of diabetes compared with the nonobese group.

“This study clearly shows that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is associated with BMI, especially at very high extremes,” said Sinha.

The findings highlight the importance of developing effective preventive or treatment alternatives for obesity in youth, said Sinha. “[A]dditional risk factors for type 2 diabetes in youth should be explored for interactions with severe obesity … Parents and healthcare providers should be aware of the future diabetes risk associated with obesity in youth, especially as more severe degrees of obesity become more prevalent,” she added.
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2 days ago
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