What is the Connection Between Childhood Obesity and Diabetes?

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  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2018
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Childhood obesity and diabetes are two conditions that are common around the world. Research has found that one of the major risk factors to the development of diabetes in children is obesity. Therefore, it is important for children who are diagnosed with obesity to start a diet and exercise program aimed at decreasing the risks of both of these conditions.

In order to understand how childhood and obesity are linked, it is important to first understand what qualifies a child as being obese. Qualifying children with obesity is done in a way that is much different from the qualification of adults. Typically, adults who have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25.0 are diagnosed with obesity. In contrast, physicians and nurses must take a number of factors into consideration in order to determine whether or not a child has obesity. Some of these factors include body fat percentage, weight versus height scores, and other measurements.


According to measurements in the year 2010, one in three children in the United States was overweight. It is of no surprise that nearly the same percentage of the population under the age of 18 also had been diagnosed with diabetes. While some of these children suffered from type I diabetes, which has genetic causes, most children under the age of 18 had type II diabetes, which is typically considered to be caused by excessive weight, inactivity, and fluctuations in dietary sugar intake. It is of no surprise, therefore, that as the percentage of overweight children increased, the percentage of children with type II diabetes also rose significantly.

As stated above, studies have shown that childhood obesity and diabetes are closely linked to excessive calorie intake and a lack of physical activity. Luckily, decreasing calorie intake among children and increasing the amount of physical activity that they participate in can likewise result in a decrease in the rates of both childhood obesity and diabetes. Children who suffer from either of these should be encouraged by their parents, teachers, and doctors to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, choose lean meats and whole grain foods, and avoid fats whenever possible. In addition, they should be counseled to participate in a physical activity program that will aid in increasing calorie burn over the course of the day.

Obviously, childhood obesity and diabetes are closely linked. In order to prevent children from developing either of these conditions, they must be headed off before they start. While childhood obesity may not initially seem like a life-threatening condition, it can lead to a series of more dangerous diagnoses that can have major impacts on the life of the child affected.



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