Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adolescents - The Next Epidemic?

Eva M. Vivian


Curr Med Res Opin. 2006;22(2):297-306. 

In This Article


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rising at an alarming rate in children and adolescents and is greatest among minority groups, particularly Native Americans, Hispanics, and African-Americans. Environmental factors, such as increased caloric intake combined with a sedentary lifestyle, have contributed to obesity and insulin resistance; the key players in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes in the young. If left untreated, this disorder can lead to early macrovascular disease. Early detection and treatment for obese children and adolescents with a family history of type 2 diabetes may interrupt the cycle of weight gain and insulin resistance that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Treatment which includes physical activity and a well balanced diet, with the appropriate amount of carbohydrates and protein to maintain a healthy weight, is vital. Further studies evaluating the long-term benefit of diet and exercise should be conducted in children and adolescents. Pharmacologic therapy should be implemented if glycemic goals are not achieved through proper diet and increased physical activity.

Antidiabetic agents used for the management of adults with type 2 diabetes are probably equally effective in children and adolescents. However, larger, long-term studies evaluating the antidiabetic and antiobesity effects of metformin, thiazolidinediones, and sulfonylureas should be conducted to determine the benefit of these agents in children and adolescents.

Because type 2 diabetes is increasing at alarming rates in children and adolescents, all health care providers who interact with children and adolescents must play an active role in providing education regarding proper nutrition, physical activity, and pharmacologic therapy to patients, caregivers and the community at large.


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