“A child with obesity faces a four-fold greater risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by age 25 than a counterpart who is normal weight," Dr. Ali Abbasi, of King’s College London, one of the study’s authors, said in the Endocrine Society news release.
Obesity and diabetes are epidemic health problems in Kentucky. More than a third of the state's children (36 percent) are either overweight or obese, and one in five between 10 and 17 are obese. More than 3,000 Kentucky's children and teenagers are estimated to have diabetes, according to the 2016 Kentucky Diabetes Fact Sheet.
The study, published online in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, examined body-mass indexes, diabetes-diagnosis records and other data from 369,362 children in the United Kingdom between the ages of 2 and 15.
Obesity was defined as having a body mass index in the top 5 percent of the population in the child's age group. BMI is a ratio of height to weight, and is used as a screening tool to indicate whether a person is underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or obese.
Researchers found that nearly half the children and teens diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between 1994 and 2013 were obese.
They also found that the rate of children in the U.K. who developed type 2 diabetes increased, from 6.4 per 100,000 in 1994-98 to 33.2 per 100,000 in 2009-2013.
“Diabetes imposes a heavy burden on society because the condition is common and costly to treat,” Abbasi said. "Given that diabetes and obesity are preventable from early life, our findings and other research will hopefully motivate the public and policymakers to invest and engage in diabetes prevention efforts.”