The number of adolescent girls taking medication for type 2 diabetes has jumped dramatically in recent years – one more sign that the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic is out of control. Type 2 diabetes, in which the body does not respond properly to insulin and so cannot regulate blood sugar levels, is typically diagnosed in people who are overweight or obese. The condition was once so rare in children that it was called "adult onset diabetes."
A review of 370,000 prescription drug claims by Medco Health Solutions, the country’s largest pharmacy benefit manager, found that the number of girls ages 10 to 19 taking medication for type 2 diabetes rose 167 percent between 2001 and 2006. And the number of children hospitalized for type 2 diabetes jumped 200 percent between 1997 and 2003, researchers from New York University School of Medicine reported in May.
Part of the reason for the increase is clear: 30 percent of kids ages 6 to 19 are overweight, and 15 percent are obese, according to the American Obesity Association. But why are more girls than boys being treated for diabetes? According to research reported in 2004 in the journal Pediatrics, girls are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes because they are naturally more insulin-resistant than boys are during puberty and adolescence.
Christina Elston is a senior editor and health writer for Dominion Parenting Media.
Posted June 2007
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