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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • cardiovascular risk factors;
  • obesity;
  • type 2 diabetes

Objective:  The rising prevalence of obesity in childhood and adolescence in North America has been paralleled by the emergence of type 2 diabetes in the adolescent age group. We have examined trends in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in adolescents attending a diabetes clinic in Auckland, New Zealand.

Methods:  Surveys of the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in attendees at the adolescent diabetes clinic at the Auckland Diabetes Centre were undertaken in 1996 and 2002. The proportion of type 2 diabetes in incident cases of diabetes diagnosed between these years was also calculated.

Results:  The prevalence of type 2 diabetes was 1.8% (2/110) in 1996, and 11.0% (18/163) in 2002 (P = 0.008). Type 2 diabetes accounted for 12.5% (6/48) of incident cases of diabetes in the years 1997−1999, and 35.7% (10/28) of cases in the years 2000−2001, indicating a sharp rise in the incidence (P = 0.017) between the two periods. At diagnosis the mean age of the type 2 diabetes subjects was 15 years and the mean body mass index 34.6 kg/m2. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease were common in the subjects with type 2 diabetes: 85% had dyslipidaemia, 58% had increased albumin excretion rates and 28% had systolic hypertension.

Conclusions:  Obesity-related type 2 diabetes now accounts for a substantial proportion of newly recognized diabetes in the adolescent age group − and this proportion is escalating rapidly. Adverse cardiovascular risk factors are prevalent in this population. Public health measures to curtail the rise of obesity in childhood and adolescence are required urgently.