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Obesity branded ‘major public health time bomb’ as figures show rise in youngsters with Type 2 diabetes

PUBLISHED: 09:57 18 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:10 18 August 2017

A diabetes specialist speaks to a schoolgirl. Picture: ALEX ORROW

A diabetes specialist speaks to a schoolgirl. Picture: ALEX ORROW

Alex Orrow (c) Copyright

Urgent action needs to be taken against childhood obesity, leaders have warned, as new figures show at least 34 people aged under 25 in the East of England have Type 2 diabetes.

Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health, at Suffolk County Council. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health, at Suffolk County Council. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents local authorities in England and Wales, is calling on the Government to reverse cuts to councils’ public health budgets in order to lower these “hugely disturbing” statistics.

Nationally, the number of children and young people receiving treatment for Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to lifestyle and weight problems and is usually only seen in people over 40, has risen by 14% in a year to 600 patients in 2015-16, 78.5% of whom were obese, according to latest data from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

And the LGA says the actual prevalence is likely to be much higher, as this only takes into account youngsters being cared for in paediatric practice.

Izzi Seccombe, chairman of LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “These figures show a hugely disturbing trend in the increasing number of children and teenagers being treated in paediatric diabetes units for Type 2 diabetes, a condition normally only associated with adults.

“Obesity is usually linked with major health conditions later on in life, but already we are seeing the devastating consequences at an early age.”

She added: “This highlights the need to take urgent action on this major public health time bomb.”

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 is largely preventable and is brought on by poor lifestyle, including unhealthy eating or lack of exercise.

The first case of Type 2 diabetes in a child was in 2000, according to LGA.

The percentage of Year 6 children who were overweight or obese in the 2015/16 school year stood at 31% in Suffolk and 32% in Essex, according to NHS data.

Adrian Coggins, head of commissioning for public health and wellbeing at Essex County Council, said: “As a council we are committed to working on ways to combat obesity and are continuing to build social support for weight management programmes for Essex residents, including children and young people.”

Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council, added: “We know that rising levels of obesity are not unique to Suffolk. It is an issue that no single organisation can address on its own, which is why we need to work with the NHS, businesses and other partners across Suffolk to tackle the problem.”

In August 2016, the Government launched a plan for action to significantly reduce childhood obesity within 10 years by supporting healthier choices.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “To halt this trend in future, we are delivering what public health experts call the world’s most ambitious plans on childhood obesity and diabetes prevention.

“Our commitment to tackling obesity is clear and comprehensive. We have introduced a soft drinks industry levy as well as an extensive sugar reformulation programme — these are already delivering results: in the past year Nestle, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Tesco, Waitrose, Kellogg’s and Sainsbury’s have all committed to cutting sugar in their products.”

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