By Serena Gordon
Diabetes is increasing among U.S. children at an alarming rate, say researchers who report jumps of more than 20 percent since 2001 for type 2 disease, which is linked to excessive weight and sedentary lifestyles, and type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease.
“Both types of diabetes are increasing,” said study co-author Dr. Dana Dabelea, associate dean for faculty affairs at the University of Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora. “For type 2, we have some clues as to why it’s increasing, but for type 1, we still need to better understand the triggers of this disease.”
Many of the type 2 diagnoses are explained by the rise in overweight and obese children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of U.S. children and teens are obese — three times the number of a generation ago.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly turns on healthy cells responsible for producing insulin, a hormone needed to metabolize the carbohydrates in food. It’s been suggested that exposure to certain viruses may trigger the onset of type 1 diabetes.