Study: Type 2 Diabetes Harder to Treat in Children

The New York Times reports today on a study finding that Type 2 diabetes (previously referred to as “adult-onset” diabetes, before the current childhood obesity epidemic) “progresses more rapidly in children than in adults and is harder to treat.” Researchers don’t know why this is the case, but suspect that children’s growth and hormonal changes at puberty play a role.

After following almost 700 pediatric diabetes patients for four years, the study concluded that the conventional oral medications for diabetes are far less effective in in children than adults; many of the study subjects had to resort to insulin injections to control their blood sugar.  The New England Journal of Medicine’s summary of the study results is here.

Lately I’ve been feeling just incredibly frustrated about improving our children’s food environment, frustration which reached a crescendo last week with my angry posting of “TLT’s Food-in-the-Classroom Manifesto.”  But then I read a report like this, which included an interview with a teenager who fears the amputation of her limbs, and realize we have no choice but to keep on fighting.


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  1. Kate says

    I read the NY Times article, and I have a lot of questions after reading it. I also have type 2 diabetes and have my own thoughts about some of the points raised.

    1)While there is no doubt that diabetes is on the rise, the parameters for diagnosing diabetes have changed slightly from what I understand over the years. Tests like the A1C were not around years ago. I think we are probably much more aggressive about screening younger people for diabetes than we once were.

    2)As far as talking about certain ethnic groups have greater incidence..this leads me to my next point. If we believe a child is at risk for diabetes for genetic reasons, should we change the dietary approaches we are using? I have lots of thoughts on this, namely that using a more carb-aware approach BEFORE the diagnosis might be helpful. One point I wanted to throw in here(after reading a comment elsewhere on the TLT blog), is that a “healthy” trail mix or organic crackers aren’t necessarily better choices for a person with diabetes.

    3)For kids with diabetes/at risk for diabetes, eating smaller more frequent meals(with quality ingredients) might be better…doubt our school culture would ever allow that.

    4)My own preference would be that we would get rid of all sugar containing beverages in the school environment for consumption on a daily basis. Allow them once weekly perhaps?

    5)We’ve got a find a way to be more active as a society. We can’t just address the diet part of the equation for diabetes.

    6)The points about conventional oral diabetes medications not being as effective are interesting.

    • says

      Kate – WRT point #5, I think we need to do a REALISTIC assessment of the risk posed to our children by “Stranger Danger”, random pedophiles, and other boogeymen as opposed to the risk posed to our children by keeping them locked up inside/under the ever-watchful eyes of helicopter parents, or glued to their school seats for day after day of test-prep.

      WRT point #4, I have no problems removing that stuff from the schools – period. If parents want their kids drinking sugar water, let them pay for the stuff.

      WRT point #3, we have the capability to change the “school culture”. The question is, do we have the will?


      • Bettina Elias Siegel says

        If you’ve posted a comment and don’t see it appear after a reasonable time, the comment is in violation of The Lunch Tray’s comments policy. No comment is ever censored for expressing an opposing view; comments which include personal attacks, ugly language (or even just a needling, snide tone) will always be censored. Some might object to this moderation policy as too strict, but I am deeply committed to keeping TLT a pleasant, safe space for all. If I receive several comments in violation of the policy from a single commenter, all future comments originating from that IP address will automatically be placed in my blog’s spam filter and I won’t see them for moderation. If you care to re-write and re-submit your comment in light of the policy, please do. As noted above, no comment will ever be censored based on the opinion expressed.

  2. says

    I seem to recall some studies done years ago, which indicated that some Native American populations (especially those still on reservations) were at abnormally high risk for diabetes, and that the difference between the maize they grew on the reservation and the sweet corn produced by agri-business was at least partially responsible (as the populations replaced native maize with sweet corn, the incidence of diabetes skyrocketed.) Could the rest of us also be susceptible? As I recall, most soft drink makers switched to HFCS in the 1970s, meaning that we are now about a generation into this experiment.

    (As an aside: I have found out that HFCS is almost toxic to my body. When I am successful in keeping the stuff out of my diet, my blood sugar tends to stay much more stable.)


  3. Alex says

    Type II diabetes can be treated with diet, true, and I think educating children in elementary school about nutrition is extremely important. However, I also think reinstating a daily dose of good strenuous physical education has got to be a part of our schools. More and more studies are showing a higher brain function with regular exercise. Regular exercise rid me of my type 2 diabetes, as well as a large chunk of extra weight. I notice that if I do some form of cardio even just every other day, my body metabolizes any carbs much more efficiently, and importantly, I feel better! I think better! A child with a good burst of energy burning exercise in the day will perform better in the rest of their classes and be less prone to being overweight. PE is as important as good nutrition in the lunch room.


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