Is My Child at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

Posted at 12:26 PM on Nov 18, 2022


Type 2 diabetes was commonly referred to as adult-onset diabetes, but due to the increasing rates of childhood obesity, we are seeing more children being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In most children, this type of diabetes is preventable through diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

While there is no direct cause of this type of diabetes in children, there are risk factors that may increase the odds of developing it, including:

  • Being overweight or obese – Learn more about child obesity.
  • Lack of physical activity – it is recommended that children get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day.
  • Immediate family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Race or ethnicity - it's unclear why, but certain people — including Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian American people — are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • When the mother experienced gestational diabetes while pregnant with their child
  • Low birth weight
  • Born premature
  • Age and sex – adolescent girls are more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the "good" cholesterol
  • High triglycerides
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Large waist size


  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Darkened areas of skin, most often around the neck or in the armpits and groin
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Frequent infections

Preventing Type Diabetes 2 in Children

As mentioned above, in most cases, type 2 diabetes is preventable in children. Here are some tips that may prevent type 2 diabetes, but additionally help keep your child healthy:

  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Limit processed foods – avoid premade boxed dinners, cookies, and fruit snacks, for example
  • Watch added sugar – aim for no more than 25 grams of added sugar daily
  • Add healthy fats – such as nuts, seeds, and olive oil
  • Add more leafy greens – if your child won’t eat them, find tips for sneaking them into their diet here
  • Limit their screen time
  • Develop a no-device policy while eating, including phones, television, computers, etc.
  • Make movement part of their daily routine – enroll them in a sport, take bike rides as a family, make a walk after dinner part of your entire family’s routine, etc.
  • Have healthy snacks on hand that they can grab and go
  • Ensure they are getting enough sleep
  • Help them learn to know when they are full
  • Be sure they are drinking enough water every day
  • Set a good example – show them how to live a healthy lifestyle by example

Talk to Your Doctor

If you are concerned that your child may be experiencing symptoms of type 2 diabetes, you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Routine well visits are a great time to discuss ways to help prevent type 2 diabetes for kids at higher risk.