Rising Prediabetes and Diabetes Problems in Children

Updated on & Medically Reviewed by Dr Lalitha
Rising Prediabetes in Children

Pre diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as Type 2 Diabetes; damage to the kidneys, heart and blood vessels begins in this stage.

The food we eat is broken down in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to simple substances such as glucose. These simple substances can then be absorbed into the bloodstream easily. As the glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, the glucose concentration/blood sugar concentration increases. To lower the sugar concentration in the blood, insulin is produced from a gland called the pancreas. The pancreas is situated behind the stomach. Insulin stimulates liver cells to absorb the excess glucose, thus reducing the blood sugar concentration. The pancreas stops producing insulin as the glucose concentration reduces to an appropriate level.

When you have Prediabetes, sugar accumulates in the blood. This can occur because:

  1. The pancreas is not producing enough insulin; cells in the pancreas die
  2. Liver cells do not respond to insulin as they become resistant to it

There are usually no symptoms of Prediabetes; however, the most common symptoms – if any – are: darkened skin near the neck, groin and armpits

What are the Main Causes of Prediabetes?

The exact causes of Prediabetes is not yet figured out however family history, and genetics seem to play a role in Prediabetes. If someone in your family has Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes, you are at a higher risk of the same.

Some Factors May Increase the Risk of Developing Prediabetes:

  • Being Overweight - Liver cells become more resistant to insulin if there is a lot of fatty tissue, especially near the abdomen.
  • Large Waist - A larger waist is correlated with a greater risk of Prediabetes. Ideally, women should have a waist less than 35 inches, while men should have a waist less than 40 inches.
  • Unhealthy Diet - Eating foods with little to no nutritional value can increase the risk of prediabetes.
  • Age - People are more likely to develop prediabetes as they get older.
  • Sleep - Disrupted sleep can increase a person’s risk of insulin resistance.
  • Smoking - Tobacco smoke can increase the chances of developing prediabetes as well as complications resulting from prediabetes.

Some Existing Conditions can Increase the Risk of Developing Prediabetes:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Low levels of high density lipoproteins (HDLs) – beneficial fat
  3. High levels of triglycerides - type of fat in the blood

There are Complications Which can Result from having Prediabetes:

  1. Silent heart attacks
  2. Nerve damage
  3. Blood vessel damage
  4. High cholesterol levels
  5. Stroke
  6. Kidney damage
  7. Eye issues

However There are Ways to Prevent Prediabetes:

  1. Losing Surplus Weight: Losing 10% of your weight can reduce the chances of developing Prediabetes by 2.
  2. Eat Nutritious Foods: Eating nutritious foods can lead to achieving a healthy weight by consuming a controlled and healthy amount of carbohydrates. This can help manage the glucose concentration in the blood.
  3. Exercising Regularly: Exercise puts strain on muscles which allows them to consume more glucose. Thus, this controls the glucose concentration without insulin production. This allows for less exertion of the insulin-producing cells.
  4. Stopping Smoking: Quitting smoking reduces the risk of Prediabetes

As of 2023, 11% of India’s population is diabetic (101 million people) and 15% is prediabetic, while about 35% has hypertension (high blood pressure).

[ Read: Wellness Wednesdays Chair Exercises You Can Do Anywhere ]

Prediabetes in Children

In the United States, 15% of adolescents have Prediabetes. During puberty, adolescents go through hormonal changes which increases their resistance to insulin. Moreover, as a greater number of adolescents are overweight or obese and only minimally exercise, the risk of them developing prediabetes increases further.

Increased consumption of packaged and unhealthy foods which are addictive, is likely a factor of increased prediabetes cases in children.

Prediabetes can also be hereditary. Having a relative with type 2 diabetes increases your risk of developing prediabetes.

If your mother had diabetes when she was pregnant, also known as gestational diabetes, you are more likely to develop prediabetes.

Lifestyle changes are critical to implement in children to reverse prediabetes because there are very few medicines available for use.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Eating more vegetables
  • Having a balanced diet
  • Reducing the amount of carbohydrates taken
  • Sleeping a minimum of 8 hours every night
  • Exercising regularly
  • Minimizing stress

Works Cited:

  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355278
  • https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/diabetes-prevention/preventing-diabetes-full-story/#:~:text=Achieving%20a%20healthy%20weight%2C%20eating,a%20healthy%20blood%20glucose%20range.
  • https://www.reuters.com/world/india/india-study-estimates-11-population-is-diabetic-2023-06-09/#:~:text=The%20Indian%20government%20says%20unhealthy,rise%20in%20cases%20of%20diabetes.
  • https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/prediabetes
  • https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevent-type-2/type-2-kids.html#:~:text=Because%20of%20heredity%20(traits%20inherited,and%20take%20in%20blood%20sugar.
 *** This Article is Written by Sneha Mukkavilli.


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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a healthcare professional.

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