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Obesity leads to record number of youngsters with diabetes

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The number of children and young people with diabetes is the highest it has ever been, a charity has said.

Diabetes UK reported that 6,836 children and young adults have Type 2 diabetes in England and Wales, according to data from GP surgeries.

The charity said the rising tide of obesity is the main driver behind the figures.

Other factors which could also play a part include a family history and ethnic background, it added.

Type 2 diabetes is much more aggressive in youngsters and complications of the disease - which can include blindness, amputations, heart disease and kidney failure - can appear earlier.

Diabetes UK warned that thousands more children and young people could be diagnosed with the condition over the coming years, as the latest figures on childhood obesity show that more than a third of children in England will be overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.

It has called for better specialist support for youngsters with the condition to help manage their illness and reduce their risk of serious complications.

Meanwhile, it backed proposals for a ban on junk food TV advertising aimed at children before 9pm, and to restrict supermarket price promotions for unhealthy foods.

Bridget Turner, director of policy and campaigns at Diabetes UK, said: "Type 2 diabetes can be devastating for children and young people.

"To help shape a future where fewer children develop the condition, we need continued commitment across society to create an environment that reduces obesity."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "We are committed to halving child obesity by 2030 and will be launching consultations to restrict promotions in shops for sugary and fatty foods, as well as a 9pm watershed ban on advertising.

"The upcoming NHS long-term plan will have prevention at its core and build on our existing work to keep people healthy and well."