The number of children and young people being treated for type II diabetes has leapt by around 40 percent in just four years to more than 700 cases, NHS data show.
According to an audit by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 715 children and young people under the age of 25 received care for the condition - which is considered largely preventable and generally associated with older age – showing a rise of 41 percent on the 507 cases recorded in 2013/14.
But the data only refers to those being treated in Paediatric Diabetes Units and does not included patients receiving treatment in primary care, so the true figure is likely to be even higher.
The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says the figures highlight the “critical need” to urgently tackle the childhood obesity crisis, which is the single biggest risk factor for developing type II diabetes.
The LGA said earlier this year that 22,000 children are now classed as severely obese – the most overweight scale – when they leave primary school, and called for a reversal of the government’s £600 million cut to councils’ public health funding, which is used to invest in fighting obesity.
“These figures are a sad indictment of how we have collectively failed as a society to tackle childhood obesity, one of the biggest health challenges we face,” said Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board.
“The Government’s childhood obesity plan sets out bold ambitions to halve the number of obese children by 2030. But we need urgent action now.
“Councils with their public health responsibilities are on the frontline fighting obesity but for this to work effectively they need to be properly resourced. Cutting their public health funding is short-sighted and undermines any attempt to help our children live healthy and fulfilling lives.”
“Type II diabetes is a disaster for the child and their family and for the NHS,” said Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular health at Queen Mary University of London and chair of the campaign group Action on Sugar, as reported by the Guardian.
“If a child gets type II diabetes, it’s condemning them to a lot of complications of that condition, such as blindness, amputations and kidney disease. These figures are a sign that we are in a crisis and that the government doesn’t seem to be taking action, or not enough and not quickly enough.”