type 2 diabetes
© Artur Szczybylo |

There are nearly 7,000 children and young adults under 25 currently being treated for type 2 diabetes in England and Wales – about 10 times the number reported before, according to Diabetes UK

These new figures come from the latest National Diabetes Audit.[i] [ii] These shocking figures only represent those who are currently being treated for the condition, but what about those who are pre-diabetic or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes? The figures would be even more alarming!

Our expert, Dr. Sarah Brewer, working in association with CuraLin Diabetes supplement, reveals why we could be seeing this dramatic rise and what we can do to help our younger generation…

Biggest epidemic of the 21st century

“According to the World Health Organization, at least 422 million people were living with diabetes in 2014 compared with 108 million in 1980. In the UK alone, almost 3.7 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes and this number will rise to over 5 million by the year 2025 if nothing is done to curb what has been described as the biggest epidemic of the 21st century.”

Millennial crisis

“Our lifestyle is very different to that of people just two generations ago. The modern way of life involves eating excess calories from super-sized meals, eating processed high-GI foods, snacking between meals, taking the car/bus/train instead of walking or cycling, sitting down to work plus more sitting in the evenings to watch TV (rather than going for a walk or playing sport), delegating active household chores and gardening to machines or service providers. We tend to burn fewer calories than we consume, leading to overweight and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Nature vs Nurture

Genes play a key role in the development of type 2 diabetes, and if you have a close relative such as a parent, brother or sister who has type 2 diabetes, then you are also at higher risk. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is around 15% if one parent has type 2 diabetes and 75% if both parents have type 2 diabetes, for example.”

“We don’t just inherit genes from our parents, we inherit lifestyle preferences, too. People growing up in a household that exercises a lot, cycles at weekends, going for family walks, eating healthy food choices, avoiding snacks and watching little TV are likely to make healthier choices in later life, too. If you grow up in a household where sitting in front of the TV eating lots of snacks and drinking fizzy drinks is the norm, then you will tend to continue this in adulthood, too, although that’s not necessarily the case.”

New culprit

Fat tissue has recently been revealed as a source of the disease, widening our understanding beyond the traditional main culprits, the liver and pancreas.[iii] Dr. Sarah Brewer suggests, “Activation of a liver enzyme known as protein kinase C epsilon is thought to be involved in the development of insulin resistance. Preclinical studies involving mice have found that mice that lack this enzyme do not develop type 2 diabetes, for example. It now seems this enzyme may be more wide acting than previously thought and may be involved in the development of insulin resistance in fat cells, too. More studies are needed to pinpoint the exact role of this enzyme in the development of type 2 diabetes.”

What can you do or advise your child to do if they have been diagnosed?

Pretty obvious – exercise

“Exercising regularly on most days, and losing excess weight can improve glucose control – even returning it to normal in the early stages.”

Goodbye carbs, hello healthy fats

“Replace some carbohydrates in your diet with healthy monounsaturated fats (e.g. in olive oil, avocado, almonds, macadamia nuts) and omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. from oily fish and walnuts). This simple approach can significantly improve glucose control, triglyceride levels, blood pressure and cholesterol balance in people with type 2 diabetes.”

Snack on apples

Eat fruit as a healthy snack. Although fruit contains natural sugars, most have a low to moderate glycaemic index and do not raise blood glucose levels excessively (though don’t over-indulge in dried fruits). A study involving 38,000 women found those eating at least one apple a day were 28% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those eating no apples, while a recent analysis of 5 trials, involving almost a quarter of a million people, found that regular consumption of apples and pears is associated with an 18% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.”[iv]

Tea lovers – you’ll like this one

“Drink tea – whether black, green or oolong – tea contains antioxidants that increase insulin sensitivity, suppress appetite through the effects on hormones such as ghrelin and adiponectin, stimulate fat burning to generate heat and aid weight loss, and have beneficial effects on the liver to decrease glucose and fatty acid synthesis.”

Dark chocolate

“Select dark chocolate as a treat. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain antioxidants that improve insulin resistance to help lower glucose levels, protect against heart disease and have beneficial effects on the circulation to reduce diabetes-related side effects. Ensure your chocolate contains at least 70% cocoa solids to minimise sugar content.”



[ii] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46290849

[iii] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181012110203.htm

[iv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28186516

[v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27664636


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