Adult-Type Diabetes
Occurring In More Children

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- Adult-type diabetes is showing up in more children and teen-agers, especially among overweight kids who watch too much television, according to several studies released Saturday.
The type of diabetes that typically occurs in overweight older adults is becoming more prevalent in children and adolescents, said the five studies, released at the American Diabetes Association's annual session in San Diego.
The results raised fears that complications from the disease, including heart attack and stroke, could become more common in 30-year-olds.
The reports emphasized that obesity in children and teens -- linked to more sedentary lifestyles -- seems to play a major role in early development of the disease. Recent surveys indicate as many as 20 percent of American children are obese.
"Elevated obesity levels in children and teens is a harbinger of future diabetes risk for them because obesity is associated with insulin resistance, the first step in the development of type 2 diabetes," said Bernard Zinman, a senior scientist at Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto.
The Toronto study found that lots of TV time was associated with a significant increase in obesity for kids between ages 10 and 19.
Nearly 16 million Americans have diabetes, a group of serious diseases characterized by high blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the condition, results from defects in the body's ability to produce and use insulin. The far less common type 1 diabetes is usually an autoimmune disorder that typically starts in children or young adults who are slim.
Over the long term, high levels of blood sugar can damage blood vessels, leading to devastating complications, such as heart attacks, strokes, blindness and loss of limbs. Diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death by disease in the United States.
A study of 82 First Nation Cree-speaking children by the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine found that their incidence of adult-type diabetes was twice as high as the incidence of type 1.
The University of California at San Diego conducted a study of 58 youngsters with type 2 diabetes, of which 83 percent were obese and all but one was overweight. Like many of the other studies, most of the children came from ethnic minorities.
"Our findings indicate that future research must look at specific measurements of insulin resistance in these populations before we can understand what sub-types of diabetes may exist and use that knowledge for more effective treatment," said Kenneth Jones, MD, chief of the division of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the San Diego university.