Childhood obesity has been rising steadily for more than two decades and in turn, so has type-2 diabetes. But information gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates childhood obesity in the U.S. may be slowing.
In this week's Dealing with Diabetes report, a local specialist says that can only be good news on the diabetes front.
Ronnie Salem's 5-year old son, William, is one of about 49 children in Las Vegas known to have Prader-Willi Syndrome -- a rare genetic condition that makes weight control very difficult. The child has a constant desire to eat, yet burns calories very slowly.
"He doesn't walk, he doesn't talk. But he does sign. So his metabolism is very slow to burn off the calories. And he constantly thinks of food. So with that issue, diabetes comes to mind -- heavy on my mind," said Salem.
William is being screened for diabetes by Las Vegas pediatric endocrinologist, Asheesh Dewan -- who says a new study indicating a leveling-off of childhood obesity is encouraging. He says there are clear links between insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes, and obesity.
"So by losing weight, by having the society in general being skinnier, then the incidence of that initial insulin resistance will decrease. So the incidence of type 2 diabetes will decrease as well," said Dr. Dewan.
Dr. Dewan says the cost of diabetes on society is about $120 billion a year. And with an estimated 32-percent of American school children overweight or obese, those costs are unlikely to diminish in the near future, but Dr. Dewan says, it's still a good sign.
"This is a huge first step. Of course we want to see it start to decrease. But it's showing that society is becoming much more aware," said Dr. Dewan.
The new survey of childhood obesity is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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