Treatment for obese children with type 2 diabetes (T2D) has always been referred from adult guidelines due to the lack of pediatric guidelines. In a new publication, Australian researchers were able to create the first type 2 diabetes standards specifically for adolescents.
Childhood obesity leading to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol at a young age is a serious problem. Most obese adolescents carry the medical condition into their adulthood, with increasing levels of self-esteem issues and depression.
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes until the obesity epidemic allowed the chronic disease to target younger ages. Although genetics and lifestyle are a factor for obtaining diabetes, the exact cause of the disease remains unknown.
Guidelines for Adolescents with Type 2 Diabetes
What remains critical for long-term health, noted the authors, is the early identification and management of their condition. This would help prevent children with T2D from facing several health complications in the future.
The Australasian Pediatric Endocrine Group guidelines for adolescents with T2D were developed by medical experts from Australia and New Zealand so that pediatricians would no longer need to refer to adult guidelines. The guidelines include specific care for those with Indigenous backgrounds.
The new guidelines will also help regulate what kind of medicine would be approved by pediatric endocrinologists as well as providing children with a diabetes multidisciplinary care team for ongoing care. “In some cases, by the time T2D is diagnosed, the complications of diabetes may already be present which is why early diagnosis and assessment followed by effective management is critical,” explained Dr. Peña.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
It’s also important to identify if any of these children are within high-risk groups. Risk factors for T2D are either non-modifiable or modifiable.
Non-modifiable risk factors include a family history for diabetes and racial background, where Indigenous and Pacific Islanders are included. Other factors include early childhood depression and weighing over 9 pounds at birth.
Modifiable or preventable risk factors include a change in lifestyle accompanied with proper diet and exercise. A healthier lifestyle regimen can avoid the development of hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, and high levels of unhealthy fats called triglycerides.
Dr. Peña urges all health care professionals to become aware of the specific assessment and management of adolescent T2D patients. “It is critical that early diagnosis is followed with culturally sensitive advice to help them manage their diabetes in a way that promotes family-centered behavioral change,” she said.
Similarly in the UK, fighting the obesity epidemic became a direct concern of Prime Minister Boris Johnson who decided to put the entire nation on a diet.
The British health department shared, “All the focus and energy is going to be on getting the nation fitter because, as the coronavirus has shown us, it will save lives. People have gone to extraordinary lengths to remain safe, including staying at home for the past 12 weeks, so encouraging them to eat more healthily and take more exercise should not be that difficult.”