Diabetes in children: don't blame sweets

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Sweets are not to blame for increased diabetes in children

Diabetes, the so-called diabetes, is by no means just an old-age illness. More and more children are falling ill. So far, doctors have no explanation for the increase. But sweets are not the problem.

Rise puzzles More and more children in Germany suffer from type 1 diabetes and the disease also breaks out earlier and earlier. This increase in diabetes puzzles because medical professionals have no explanation for it. "Why type 1 diabetes is increasing - you can still win a Nobel Prize for the answer," said Thomas Danne, chief physician at the children's and adolescent hospital on the Bult in Hanover and chairman of the board of diabetesDE - Deutsche Diabetes Hilfe. "It's like a puzzle." Diabetes doesn't just affect the old and overweight. The "Diabetes Parent Journal" reports about cases like little Ann-Fabienne, who is a high-performance gymnast and got seven sugars and still leads a largely normal life.

Children especially affected by type 1 Diabetes is the most common metabolic disorder in children. Around 30,000 of those under the age of 18 in Germany suffer from type 1 and the number of new cases increases by two to four percent a year, depending on the source. In the case of the disease, the immune system derails and destroys the insulin-producing cells. In type 2, often referred to as adult diabetes, the insulin does not work sufficiently, often as a result of being overweight, and at some point the body can no longer produce enough. A few decades ago, diseases of type 2 diabetes were almost exclusively observed in older people (hence the term adult diabetes), but nowadays adolescents are increasingly suffering from the metabolic disorder.

Sweets do not matter Most diabetes 1 children are found in Finland. However, the reasons for this are unclear. "We know that certain viral diseases increase the risk," said Danne. Around 20 genes would be associated with type 1 diabetes. Nutritional components or a vitamin D deficiency could also play a role. "One thing is certain: sweets don't matter," explains Danne. "There are a lot of unanswered questions." However, the type 2 diabetes risk can be increased by sweet soft drinks, as recently announced by the German Institute for Nutritional Research (DifE). Deutsche Diabetes Hilfe, chaired by Danne, campaigns for donations and also for more research.

Enormous strain on the family Especially when the patients are still small children, this represents an enormous strain on the family. Half a dozen times a day, the blood sugar has to be measured and insulin has to be injected about four times. For this, the little ones also have to be woken up at night. During this phase, the metabolism is unpredictably influenced by growth, urge to move and infections. In extreme cases, a high sugar value can be fatal. Hypoglycemia, in which the consciousness dims, is also dangerous. Even later in teenage years, it doesn't necessarily get easier. The adolescents then often resort to alcohol, which increases the risk of hypoglycaemia. Or the drug extasy. “Someone danced through three nights. If he then has extreme hypoglycaemia, nothing will save him, ”says Danne.

Overweight and lack of exercise as causes Around six million Germans suffer from type 2 diabetes. The causes of the disease are a genetic predisposition, overweight and lack of exercise. More and more young people get sick, but rarely children. “We have a problem with obesity and children. But diabetes is only the final stage, ”said Michael Hummel, vice-chair of the diabetes research group at the Helmholtz Center in Munich. "It is not true that type 2 diabetes is increasing insanely in children." However: "We are seeing more and more type 2 patients aged 25 and 35 years."

Penalty tax on unhealthy food In the fight against type 2 diabetes, around 20 states have imposed a compulsory levy on sugary drinks. Mexico recently also passed a tax on high-calorie fast food and sugary lemonades. According to the World Agricultural Organization (FAO), around a third of people in the country are overweight. "Penalty" taxation of unhealthy food could also be a way in this country, said Danne. A restriction on the opening of fast food restaurants is also possible. Politicians are now challenged. “What people like to do in Germany is print colorful brochures. Other countries have a national diabetes plan. "

Insulin so far the only solution In general, help for families should be increased and schools better prepared. Losing weight and exercising can treat type 2 diabetes. Type 1 cannot be cured. "The only thing we can do is give insulin," explains Danne. "What we can offer are technical solutions." Recently, patients had first tested an artificial pancreas at home. With the device you can automatically measure the sugar in the tissue and then it releases the correct amount of insulin. However, it will still be a long time before such devices reach market maturity. (ad)

Image: Steffi Pelz / pixelio.de

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