Local Government Association calls for urgent action on childhood obesity following increase in children with Type 2 diabetes

Ahead of the first anniversary of the publication of the Government’s childhood obesity plan the Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for urgent action to tackle childhood obesity, given the rising rates of children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Although not every case of Type 2 diabetes is the result of being overweight, it is the single greatest risk factor.

According to figures for 2015/16 from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 621 children and young people under the age of 25 received care for Type 2 diabetes from Paediatric Diabetes Units in England and Wales, of which 78.5 per cent were also obese. Fifteen children with Type 2 were aged between five and nine. The LGA says figures emphasise the urgency of stepping up efforts to tackle child obesity, with the “devastating consequences” already being seen at an early age.

In response to the LGA press release on Type 2 diabetes in children, Dr Justin Warner, clinical lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health’s National Paediatric Diabetes Audit, said:

“Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and can lead  to long-term health problems such as vision loss and blindness, kidney failure and stroke. The good news is, it’s largely preventable – but the single biggest risk factor for children developing Type 2 diabetes is being overweight.

“Increasing numbers of children and young people in the UK are overweight or obese, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing children younger and younger being treated for Type 2 diabetes. Children and young people from Black and Minority Ethnic groups are also at higher risk of developing the condition, with more girls than boys being diagnosed and living in socially deprived area being a risk factor both for obesity and developing Type 2 diabetes.

“Obesity is major public health threat and there needs to be action at all levels to reverse the trend. The Soft Drinks Industry Levy – or sugar tax – is a positive step towards reducing the amount of sugar in the nation’s diet, but Government needs to be doing much more.  There is a major loophole in advertising laws which allows junk food to be marketed at children on television during ‘family’ programmes prior to the 9pm watershed.  Adverts have a significant impact on children’s behaviour – if they didn’t, companies wouldn’t spend so much on them.  There must be tougher action to tackle obesity and it needs to be taken quickly.”