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Type 2 diabetes, once considered a disease for adults, is increasingly common in tweens and teens

For years, health experts have bemoaned the rise of childhood obesity in the United States. About 17% of kids and teens in the U.S. are now considered obese, a figure that has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

report in this week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine lays out one of the consequences of all this excess weight: a corresponding increase in childhood cases of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when extra body fat makes it hard for cells to use insulin, a hormone that turns sugar into energy. Over time, blood sugar levels rise and cause blood vessels to become stiff, increasing the risk of life-threatening conditions like heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure, among others. More than 75,000 Americans die of diabetes each year, the CDC says.


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