Three-year-old among youngest ever to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes

Child on Scale/A. Gorohov. Getty Images

At only three years old, an American toddler has become one of the youngest patients ever to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise.

The worldwide epidemic of obesity is now causing a spike in Type 2 diabetes, the occurrence is often referred to as “diabesity.”

READ MORE: Childhood obesity at record levels in US and Canada: study

“This is a global problem,” Dr. Michael Yafi told Reuters. “Type 2 diabetes is no longer limited to adults. Now when I see any obese child I screen the patient for Type 2 diabetes.”

Yafi, a pediatric endocrinologist from the University of Texas first met the toddler when she came to his Houston clinic, at the time she weighed 35 kilograms (77 pounds). Her weight and body mass index (BMI) were in the 95th percentile for her age, and she was suffering from excessive thirst and urination.

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Dr. Yafi discovered poor family eating habits, with no calorie awareness, and a history of obesity in her family – but no history of diabetes. The Texas toddler’s family was asked to change their eating habits, including smaller portions and to increase the girl’s physical activity.

Dr. Yafi presented the case at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm this week.

READ MORE: Study finds half of US adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes

The International Diabetes Federation estimates that around the world over 70 percent of Type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthier lifestyles, equivalent of up to 150 million new diabetes cases by 2035.

With the lifestyle changes the toddler’s health improved dramatically. Her weight normalized. She is now 5 years old, and the medical team said her diabetes was reversed because it was caught early.

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Dr. Yafi concluded that in order to reverse childhood cases of Type 2 diabetes, early diagnosis, appropriate therapy, and lifestyle changes can be effective.

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