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Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes in Children

By Sofia Shapiro, MD FAAP | Pediatric Endocrinology

Even though type 1 diabetes mellitus remains the main type of diabetes in children and adolescents, over the past two decades, we have seen a gradually increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes.  Still, type 2 is quite rare—what is more alarming is the skyrocketing rates of obesity we have been seeing across all ethnic and socio-economic groups of young people. On top of unhealthy food choices and lack of regular physical activity, the overwhelming use of electronic devices–what we call “screen time”–really contributes to the sedentary lifestyle and leads to obesity.  Obesity leads to insulin resistance, which in turn leads to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. It takes the whole family to change these risk factors and adopt a healthier lifestyle; to eliminate sugary drinks and empty carbohydrates; to add lean protein to every meal; to exercise regularly; and to limit screen time, depending on age, realizing that more and more schoolwork is now done on the computer or iPad. Prevention is so much easier and healthier than treating obesity or pre-diabetes, and we as doctors, parents and community members, must model good behaviors and lead by example, for our children.