Parallel to the increase in obesity worldwide, there has been a rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in children and adolescents. The etiology of T2DM in youth, similar to adults, is multifactorial including genetic and environmental factors, among them obesity, sedentary lifestyle, family history of the disease, high-risk ethnicity and insulin resistance phenotype playing major roles. Treatment of T2DM should not have a glucocentric approach; it should rather target improving glycemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, weight management and the prevention of short- and long-term complications. Prevention strategies, especially in high-risk groups, should focus on environmental change involving participation of families, schools, the food and entertainment industries and governmental agencies. Presently, limited pharmacotherapeutic options need to be expanded both for childhood T2DM and obesity. The coming decades will prove very challenging for healthcare providers battling socioeconomic waves conducive to obesity and T2DM. Evidence-based research and clinical experience in pediatrics, possibly modeled after adult trials, need to be developed if this public health threat is to be contained.
Copyright (c) 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.