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Shelley Osterloh ReportingDiabetes is one of the most serious health problems facing the world today. Increasingly, health care providers are seeing more and more children and teens with type 2 diabetes, a disease usually seen in people over age 40.
Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult onset and is often linked to obesity and lack of exercise. Ten years ago only about 10% of the cases were type 2, now its about 40 to 50% and the age of those affected is much younger.
If children are active they may not have to worry about becoming obese, but experts say about 15 to 20% of kids are obese and they are at risk.
Mary Murray, MD, Utah Diabetes Center: "We are seeing type 2 diabetes present at younger ages, in children and teenagers, which we didn't used to see."
Bradley, 9 years old: "When I open the cupboard I like to have some cookies."
Todd, 13 years old "I usually eat potato chips while playing video games."
Steven, 14 years old: "I like candy bars, gummy bears, potato chips; just unhealthy junk food.”
Even parents who prepare healthy meals say snacking is a part of life for today's kids.
Janette Hamilton, parent: "I also think you have to indulge a little bit. Because kids who don't ever get a treat, then they go to a friends house and that’s all they want so there has to be that right balance between letting them snack and try to get them healthy food."
Mary Murray, MD, Utah Diabetes Center: "But if it’s day in and day out the kids are getting more junk food and more candy and more potato chips, and less fruits and vegetables. They are going to pay a price in the long term."
That price may be diabetes. Dr. Mary Murray of the Utah Diabetes Center says some ethnic groups have a higher risk factor, but overall the increasing number is frightening.
Mary Murray, MD, Utah Diabetes Center: "We see this huge group of people that we expect to see in the next few years who will already have problems that we used to associate with 50 year olds; and they'll have these problems in their teens and twenties."
Dr. Murray say parents should encourage their children to exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables and limit junk food and soda pop.
The usual symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst and frequent urination.