Reason for increase in number of children with type 2 diabetes

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is becoming much more common among children.

  • Until recently, only 1% to 2% of children with diabetes had type 2. Recent reports indicate that from 8% to 45% of all children with newly diagnosed diabetes have a form other than type 1. The majority of these children have type 2.1
  • Several studies in the United States and from around the world have shown an increase in the number of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The most likely explanation is the increase in the number of children who are overweight. Being overweight is the primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes in children. About 85% of children with type 2 diabetes are obese, and obesity in children is rising.2 As a result, diseases affecting obese and overweight people are showing up in younger people, mainly type 2 diabetes.

Too little physical activity and too much high-calorie food cause a child to become overweight, increasing his or her risk of developing type 2 diabetes early in life.


  1. Tararanni PA, Bogardus C (2003). Obesity and T2DM in children and adolescents section of Obesity and diabetes mellitus. In D Porte Jr et al., eds., Ellenberg and Rifkin's Diabetes Mellitus, 6th ed., pp. 409–410. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  2. American Diabetes Association (2000). Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents (Consensus Statement, 2000). Diabetes Care, 23(3): 381–389.

Last Updated: July 28, 2008

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