Obesity-Linked Diabetes in Children Resists Treatment


Letter to the Editor, The Seattle Times, April 29, 2012

The rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the general population is alarming. People generally think of a person with type 2 diabetes as middle aged, obese, and inactive. This article underscores the fact that type 2 diabetes can strike people who do not fit the stereotype, including children, those who are lean, and those with an active lifestyle. For example, 20% of people with type 2 diabetes have a lean body mass, and only 25% of people with obesity develop type 2 diabetes. The most recent research strongly suggests a genetic pre-disposition as the root cause.  Equally important are risk factors that can trigger its onset, some of which we know (obesity, inactivity) and some we are only beginning to understand (environmental triggers). It is important that people with a history of diabetes in their family pay serious attention to the early warning signs of diabetes, which include excessive tiredness, unusual thirst, frequent urination, and delayed healing of infections, regardless of their age, body mass or level of exercise.  Awareness and education are the first lines of defense to turn back this growing tide of type 2 diabetes.

R. Paul Robertson, M.D.
Principal Scientist
Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute

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