Stemming the Tide of Type 2 Diabetes in Kids

Stemming the Tide of Type 2 Diabetes in Kids

03.22.11 | By

The Washington Post's health supplement has a good series of articles about the growing health problems caused by childhood obesity. One story in particular caught my eye as it talked about a teenager finding out she had Type 2 diabetes.

From the article: "As recently as the mid-1990s, Type 2 diabetes was almost exclusively a disease of adults. But apparently fueled by the childhood obesity epidemic, cases in people younger than 20 have ramped up from virtually zero to tens of thousands in the United States in little more than a decade. The children who have it are breaking new scientific ground: No one has any idea how they will fare over the course of a lifetime."

The last sentence there nails the healthcare and societal dilemma we face. Fortunately, Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed and managed reasonably well as a chronic condition. The problem is that these kids will live the rest of their lives with Type 2 diabetes and while it is hopeful that available treatments will allow them to do so, it also seems obvious that we must do a better job preventing diabetes in the first place.

Which brings us, again, back to one of our constant themes here at The Catalyst, the toll of chronic disease. Not only are conditions such as heart disease and diabetes often preventable, if found and treated early, they can be managed and limit healthcare costs like hospitalization, surgeries and long-term care.

Finding ways to help prevent chronic disease is a PhRMA priority. Helping to find new and better treatments for childhood diseases - and maybe one day a cure for Type 2 diabetes - is a research priority of many biopharmaceutical research companies. Right now, America's biopharmaceutical research companies are working on a record 235 medicines specifically targeting diabetes.

While there's a long way to go in the fight against preventable chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, stories like those in the today's Post are a wake-up call.

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