AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The fight against Type 2 diabetes just got more urgent. That’s because a new study found the standard treatment doesn’t work for many teenagers.
It is a warning to obese teens, but it’s a wake-up call for everybody.
The childhood obesity epidemic has led to the emergence of Type 2 diabetes in young people. The study found teens who develop diabetes will have a tough time keeping it under control.
It used to be Type 2 diabetes was rare in young people, but Sara Chernoff was diagnosed at 16.
“It’s definitely been a struggle, no doubt about it,” Chernoff said.
The disease started to surface in adolescents in the mid-1990s.
“More fast food, less activity, more sedentary options for kids,” Dr. Philip Zeitler of The Children’s Hospital Colorado said.
Obesity rates rose and so did Type 2.
“It is definitely alarming,” Zeitler said.
It is especially troublesome because the new study of nearly 700 young patients shows the effective treatment for adults, the drug metformin, has a high failure rate for ages 10 to 17.
“Fifty percent of the kids required additional therapy when they were treated with metformin only,” Zeitler said.
The national study, chaired by Zeitler, found the need for two drugs, metformin and Avandia. But Avandia has been linked to heart disease and strokes.
While doctors look for treatments, they warn young people with Type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for complications in their 20s and 30s.
“Heart disease, kidney disease, amputations,” Zeitler said.
Exercise and a healthier diet are key in preventing Type 2 diabetes, but habits can be tough to alter. In fact, the study found it was incredibly difficult to affect lifestyle changes in the teens even with one-on-one intervention.
“I fear sometimes that we make light of all the little fat kids we have in our society, but I think the message here is that there really are very substantial consequences to that obesity,” Zeitler said.
The take away from the study is that it’s better to avoid diabetes altogether by living a healthy lifestyle then to have to treat it.