CUTS to councils’ public health budgets have been criticised after it emerged more than 600 children and teenagers are being treated for a type of diabetes normally only seen in adults aged over 40.
The increase of 14 per cent in a year is one of the biggest public health challenges the country faces, ahead of the first anniversary of the publication of the Government’s childhood obesity plan.
While not every case of Type 2 diabetes is as a result of being overweight and obese, it is the single greatest risk factor.
According to figures for 2015/16 from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 621 children and young people under the age of 25 received care for Type 2 diabetes from Paediatric Diabetes Units in England and Wales, of which 78.5 per cent were also obese. Fifteen children with Type 2 were aged between five and nine.
It is an increase of 76 on the number for 2014/15, but as the figures only relate to those treated in paediatric practice, and not for example, primary care, the actual number of young people with Type 2 diabetes is likely to be even higher.
The Local Government Association is calling on the Government to reverse the cuts to councils’ public health budgets of £531 million, a reduction of nearly 10 per cent over a five-year period.
Councils also say more needs to be done to reach out to black and minority ethnic groups, where there is a disproportionately higher number of children and young people with Type 2 diabetes. Nearly half of those receiving care for the condition from Paediatric Diabetes Units were black or Asian.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 is largely preventable and is closely linked to lifestyle, such as unhealthy eating or lack of exercise.
The first cases of Type 2 diabetes in children were diagnosed in overweight girls of Asian ethnic origin in 2000 and first reported in white adolescents in 2002.
Data from the National Child Measurement Programme, carried out in schools and funded by councils, shows 9.3 per cent of reception children and 19.8 per cent of those in year six were obese in 2015/16.