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Type 2 Diabetes in Children

About 20 years ago, type 2 diabetes was called adult-onset diabetes. In most cases, only people over 40 got the disease. But with more kids spending time playing computer games rather than sports, the disease has become a childhood disease too.

In type 2 diabetes, food isn't converted into energy. The body doesn't make enough insulin or the insulin doesn't work as it should. As a result, high levels of blood sugar can build up, leading to life-long problems.

Risk Factors

Experts agree that type 2 diabetes has three major risk factors:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Having a parent with the disease

Learn more about your risk factors for type 2 diabetes.


Because of the seriousness of type 2 diabetes, much is known about the disease.

  • Nearly 1 in 400 children under age 20 has diabetes, making it the most common long-term disease in children.
  • Children under 10 rarely get the disease.
  • More than 75% of children with type 2 diabetes are overweight.
  • Not all people with type 2 diabetes need insulin.
  • A good diet, regular exercise and weight loss can help keep the disease in check.


If your child has diabetes, check out these websites for living well with the disease.


  • Connect with people of all ages, find healthy recipes and discover the latest news on the American Diabetes Association Facebook page.
  • Find more than 13,000 resources that include social media links and general information for parents and children at the Diabetes Resource.
  • @KovlerDiabetes. The Twitter account of University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center offers education to people with diabetes.
  • @NDEP. The Twitter account of the National Diabetes Education Program has information on eating right, staying active and healthy living for people with diabetes.
  • Whether you're newly diagnosed, at risk or motivated to prevent diabetes, the Facebook page of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois features weekly tips on how simple lifestyle changes can be a big step toward diabetes prevention and management.

Just for kids, teens and parents

Tips for kids

Tips for teens

Tips for parents

Sources: Kidshealth.org, Parents.com, Diabetes.org, CDC.gov; ndep.nih.gov

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