There's a sharp spike in children being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes that typically affects adults in their fifties and sixties, with 15-50% of newly diagnosed diabetes in under-18s worldwide having type-2.
In India, diabetes and insulin resistance, a precursor to type-2 diabetes, ranges between 12-16% in urban children. A decade ago, the number of diabetics under 18 was 1%, with 12 years being the peak age of diagnosis.
"In the US, one in three youth are overweight or obese. That, along with decreased physical activity because of too much online time and bad food choices, lead to type-2 being diagnosed in the second decade of life," said Dr Kenneth Copeland, co-chair of the TODAY (Treatment options for type-2 diabetes in adolescents and youth) study that tracked 699 children across 15 centres for up to six years. The findings were presented at the American Diabetes Association's 72nd scientific sessions on Saturday.
There's also a strong genetic component that raises risk. "Asian Indians, along with Black Africans, Hispanics, Asians, native Americans and pacific islanders are ethnic groups at greater risk of type-2 diabetes," said Dr Lori Laffel, chief of paediatric, adolescent and young adult section at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, US.
South Asians, including Indians, are at risk at lower body weight because of the way body fat is stored in their bodies. "Abdominal fat (large waist sizes), irrespective of general weight, is a risk factor as it causes metabolic imbalances that causes insulin-resistance (precursor to diabetes)," said Dr Timothy Lyons, head of scientific research and director, Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Philadelphia.
Type-2 diabetes is caused when either the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or the cells in the body cannot use the insulin produced to absorb glucose from sugar and starch from food into energy. This causes glucose levels to shoot up in the blood, starving your body of energy. Over time, diabetics are at higher risk of heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, nerve disorders, and stroke.
Symptoms include excessive thirst, sudden weight loss, blurry vision and frequent urination.