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Children and type 2 diabetes

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If your child has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or you’re worried they’re at risk of developing it, we’re here to help.

If it's left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to permanent damage in your child’s body due to the build up of sugar in the blood - but it can be managed well.

Simple lifestyle changes such as keeping active and healthy eating can often make a big difference. A healthy, balanced diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, dairy and incorporates healthy choices from different food groups.

We’ve got lots of information to help you and the whole family eat and live well with diabetes.

Will it go away?

Type 2 diabetes can’t be cured, but some people can go into remission. There’s lots of evidence to show that adults with type 2 who live with extra weight or obesity can go into remission by losing a significant amount of weight.

We don’t know yet whether children and teenagers who develop the condition can also go into remission, partly because diabetes remission is quite a new idea. A lot of research is needed before we fully understand it. We don’t have enough evidence that remission is permanent. It needs to be maintained and in many cases, diabetes can come back, which is why it is so important to continue your diabetes appointments while in remission.

What about food?

There is no such thing as a specific type 2 diabetes diet. What, and how much, you or your child should eat depends on things like how active you are, what you enjoy, and whether you are aiming to lose weight.

However, it’s important to remember that a healthy, balanced diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, dairy and incorporates healthy choices from different food groups.

Thinking about making changes to your family’s diet might seem overwhelming. If you’re looking for support we can help. Check out our information on eating well with diabetes. It’s available to download, or we can send a printed copy straight to your door.

Will my child need medication?

Many people with type 2 diabetes need to take some medication. If your child is diagnosed with type 2, the usual treatment is metformin, and insulin is also commonly used.

There is evidence to suggest that children with type 2 diabetes who receive care from specialist paediatric diabetes clinics get better support to manage their diabetes. Sadly, we know not everyone can access one. If you haven’t been referred, ask your GP if there’s one in your area.

We’re campaigning to improve health care inequality, if you’d like to join the fight, sign up today.

How do I cope?

Caring for your child with diabetes can be very rewarding, but at times it might also feel scary, or overwhelming. It's ok if you feel upset, frightened, or even angry. It's important to make sure you look after yourself and find time to relax. Think about how you can make sure you get enough sleep, and look after your other relationships with your partner, friends or family. 

Should I tell their school?

It is a good idea to tell your child’s school so they can help your child live well with diabetes by encouraging a healthy, balanced diet plus plenty of exercise. Plus, if your child uses insulin they can help them to spot the signs of a hypo

What about prevention?

Research has shown that there are several risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. These include ethnicity, genetics, and lifestyle. 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables plus getting active is the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes in adults as well as under-18s.

Evidence suggests that lifestyle changes are easiest to stick to if the whole family gets involved. We’ve got lots of family-friendly recipes for you to try, and plenty of ideas for getting active with children.

If your child is overweight or living with obesity, changes like these will help them reduce their weight.

If you’re worried about your child developing type 2 diabetes because they have a sedentary lifestyle, live with extra weight or obesity, or have any other risk factors, speak to your GP about getting them tested.

We know that when it comes to food, making healthy choices isn't always easy. Food labelling can be confusing, and if you're grabbing food on the go it can be hard to understand what's in the food and drink you buy. Nine out of ten people say that making food labelling clearer would help them make healthier choices. That's why we've been campaigning to make nutritional labelling clear, consistent and compulsory. If you want to join our campaign, sign up today.


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