Treatment with medications and lifestyle interventions that have been successful in adults fails in as many as half of children with type 2 diabetes, underscoring the need to get the childhood obesity epidemic under control and prevent the disease in the first place.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing looked at 699 overweight children ages 10 to 17 recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. They found that treatment with medication commonly used to control diabetes in adults did not help almost half of patients maintain healthy blood sugar levels, forcing those children to begin insulin injections within a year. One in five of the children in the study had a serious complication such as very high blood sugar, and many were hospitalized.
Among various treatment programs, the study found that:
• Treatment with a medication called Metformin (also called Glucophage) alone failed 52 percent of children in the study.
• Treatment with Metformin plus a medication called rosiglitazone (brand name Avandia) failed 39 percent.
• Metformin plus an intensive diet, exercise and weight-loss program failed 47 percent of children. The intervention included a lifestyle coach and a family member designated for support.
Better treatment to manage type 2 diabetes in children is needed, but study author Terri H. Lipman, Ph.D., said prevention is key. “What we have learned is that the effect of the obesity-prone environment of these youths is even more difficult to overcome than we had predicted,” she said in a statement accompanying release of her study, which was published in May in The New England Journal of Medicine.