New UK research has found that obese children are four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than their normal-weight counterparts.
Carried out by a team of researchers from King's College London, the study used electronic health records from one of the largest primary care databases in the world, the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, to gather data for 369,362 children between the ages of 2 and 15.
The team analyzed the children's BMI measurements, diabetes diagnosis records, and other data, with children classified as obese if they had a BMI in the top five percent of the population for their age.
The data showed that 654 children and teenagers were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between 1994 and 2013 and 1,318 children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
The incidence of type 2 diabetes also increased from an average of 6 cases per year per 100,000 persons in 1994-8 to an average of 33 case per year in 2009-13 in both overweight and obese participants, with the team finding that obese individuals showed a four-times higher risk of developing the condition compared with those in the normal BMI category.
However, as the team expected, they found no association between obesity and the rate of type 1 diabetes, which is linked to an underlying autoimmune disorder.
The team concluded that the increasing rates of obesity are contributing to the increasing rates of type 2 diabetes, with lead author Dr Ali Abbasi commenting that, "Diabetes imposes a heavy burden on society as the condition is common and costly to treat. Estimates indicate one in 11 adults has type 2 diabetes, equal to around 415 million people worldwide. Given that diabetes and obesity are preventable from early life, our findings and other research will hopefully motivate the public and policymakers to invest and engage in diabetes prevention efforts."
The results can be found online published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.