Doctors are reporting a surge in cases of type 2 diabetes – triggered by poor diet and sedentary lifestyle – in the under 18s, whereas 15 years ago it was unheard of.
Alarmingly, the illness appears to be far more aggressive in children than in adults, causing serious complications much earlier.
By the time they have reached their early teens, a number have suffered damage to their eyes and kidneys and are expected to have heart attacks in their 20s.
According to NHS figures, 1,295 children under 18 have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, including 83 below the age of nine.
The illness most commonly occurs in the over 40s, and prior to the year 2000 no case had ever been recorded in the under-18s.
But academics and doctors say there has been a ‘frightening’ increase due to obesity, sugar-laden diets and a lack of exercise.
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