News article

Diabetes risk: Understanding the unique nature of children's bodies and brains

Posted:  Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The lack of exercise and a sedentary life of children in urban areas in India and the world over is leading to alarming number cases of Type 2 diabetes in children. With the increase in childhood obesity, researchers are interested in knowing how the food they eat is processed and assimilated in their systems and how so many children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

More than 70,000 children under the age of 15 have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes whereas around 40,000 children over the age of ten and those who are in the middle of their puberty. The number of cases of Type 2 diabetes is increasing at 5% per year. (

Diabetes in children:

Obesity is a common factory in most cases of diabetes. Almost half the population of children don’t exercise regularly and almost 9% of children between the ages of 9-18 years have abdominal fat.

Children who suffer from Type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin for the survival whereas, type 2 is hereditary and caused in obese children due to insulin resistance. (

Symptoms of diabetes:

Two studies by American Diabetes Association's 74th Scientific Sessions® shed light on the topic.

Children who suffer from Type 2 diabetes show symptoms such as dry mouth, frequent urination, hunger even after eating and unexplained weight loss.

One study conducted by the Yale school of Medicine compared the response of ingestion of a glucose drink of the brains of adults and children.

"While we cannot speculate directly about how glucose ingestion may influence behaviour, certainly we have shown that there are differences in how adults and adolescents respond to glucose," said lead researcher Ania Jastreboff, MD, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine. "This is important because adolescents are the highest consumers of dietary added sugars. This is just the first step in understanding what is happening in the adolescent brain in response to consumption of sugary drinks. Ultimately, it will be important to investigate whether such exposure to sugar during adolescence impacts food and drink consumption, and whether it relates to the development of obesity."

Another study by in Germany at the University Children's Hospital in Leipzig examined the association between fat cell composition and biology in lean and obese children and adolescents.

"Our research shows that obese children start to have not only more but also larger adipocytes, or fat cells, at a very young age and that this is associated with increased inflammation and is linked to impaired metabolic function," said lead researcher Antje Körner, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Pediatric Researcher at the Pediatric Research Center, University Children's Hospital, Leipzig. "What we were interested in was seeing whether something was already going on with the adipose tissue itself if the children become obese at an early age, and it appears that there is. It's important because this can contribute to the development of comorbidities of obesity in children, such as diabetes."