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50% more children being treated for type 2 diabetes

Our analysis has revealed that that the number of children receiving treatment for type 2 diabetes in Paediatric Diabetes Units in England and Wales has increased by over 50%. We’re calling on the government to do much more to keep its promises to improve children’s health, including tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

Rising numbers of children living with obesity  

Data from NHS Digital released earlier this year has revealed that childhood obesity rates have seen the largest rise since records began in 2006. 

Following the coronavirus pandemic, the number of reception-age children living with obesity has gone up from 1 in 10 to 1 in 7. 

Living with overweight or obesity significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. With obesity figures now so high, we’re worried that more children will develop type 2 diabetes.

Without the right treatment and support, children with type 2 diabetes are at risk of serious complications, such as heart problems, later in life. 

Children living in deprived areas most impacted  

National Paediatric Diabetes Audit (NPDA) data shows that the impact of type 2 diabetes is being disproportionately felt by children living in the most deprived areas across England and Wales. 4 in 10 children and young people living with type 2 diabetes are from the most deprived areas, compared to only 1 in 19 from the least deprived areas. 

Children living in deprived areas are also more likely to be impacted by the current cost-of-living crisis, unless urgent government action is taken. 

The link between obesity and deprivation is complicated. It’s influenced by lots of factors including where we live, work and grow up. 

As well as being less able to afford healthy food, people in deprived areas are more likely to live in inadequate accommodation. This means that they might not be able to prepare and cook healthy food at home. People in deprived areas are less likely to have access to nearby outdoor green space and are more often targeted by adverts for unhealthy food. 

Almost 4 million children in the UK live in households that would struggle to afford to buy enough fruit, vegetables, fish and other healthy foods to meet official nutrition guidelines. 

These are all factors which increase a person’s risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. 

Calling on the government to do more 

The increase in the numbers of children living with type 2 diabetes confirm that serious health conditions related to obesity, including diabetes, are affecting children more than in the past. 

We’re concerned that the government has put its key plans on child obesity on hold. We’re urging them to keep to their child health commitments and to go further to help families and children living with and at risk of type 2 diabetes. 

We’re calling on the government to:  

  • urgently reverse its decision to delay restrictions to junk food marketing and unhealthy food promotions 
  • go much further to halve childhood obesity by 2030 
  • do more to ensure that all children are able to lead healthy lives, regardless of their background or where they live in the country.  

 

Our Chief Executive, Chris Askew OBE, said: 

“We are very concerned that this spike in childhood obesity will translate into an even greater increase in children with type 2 diabetes in the coming years, a crisis fuelled by long-standing health inequalities and made worse still by impacts of the cost-of-living crisis. 

“Government needs to entirely rethink its commitment to child health. This must start with urgently reversing the decision to backtrack on their obesity strategy commitments and go further still with bold steps to address childhood obesity and poorer outcomes for children living in poverty in the forthcoming Health Disparities White Paper. 

“The UK Government is letting our children down. With soaring numbers of children now living with obesity, and numbers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes on a very concerning climb, we are facing a perfect storm which risks irreversible harm to the health of young people.” 

 

 

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