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What You Must Know About Type 2 Diabetes and Children

Did you know that type 2 diabetes in young people is on the increase in Australia? It's important to think about whether your child is at risk of this health problem, and what you can do to help prevent it. Read on to find out more.

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What is Diabetes?

Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells
The diabetic condition is one in which the body doesn’t produce or properly use insulin – a hormone made by the pancreas. This means glucose (often called blood sugar) cannot get into the body’s cells, where it is needed for energy. The glucose stays in the bloodstream instead, which can cause a variety of health problems.

There are two main types of diabetes:

1.  Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce insulin. About 13% of diabetic persons have this form of diabetes.

2.  Type 2 diabetes, where the body makes insulin, but it cannot be used properly. About 87% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Leading a healthy and active lifestyle, and maintaining a healthy body weight (or at least losing some weight) can prevent most cases of this condition.

Why Should You Try to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes in Children?

In the past, type 2 diabetes was a disease that mainly middle-aged people and the elderly developed. Overweight and obesity increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. With the rates of overweight and obese young people doubling in recent years, more and more young people are being diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes as a result. In fact Diabetes Australia said that between 2004 to 2008 there was a 30% increase in diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes in young people aged 5 to 19 years.

People with diabetes are at greater risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputations, compared to people who do not have diabetes.

If you’re in doubt about whether your child is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, see a health professional.

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