Type 2 diabetes used to be referred to as adult-onset diabetes, since most of the people who developed the disease did so in adulthood. Unfortunately there has been a marked increase in type 2 diabetes in children.
Type 2 diabetes is considered a lifestyle disease. The choices we make in the food we eat and how much exercise we get have a great impact on our risk for developing the disease. Although there is a strong genetic link as well, that is only factor; lifestyle choices can add significant risk.
Fast food restaurants can be found everywhere and has broad appeal. Burgers, fries, and soft drinks are highly appealing to most children, particularly when they see their friends consuming these foods too. Eating has a big social aspect to it as well -- kids "hang out" together, and when while they're at it they often go for a snack. And what's easily accessible and relatively cheap? Fast food.
Fast food has a high amount of fat, salt, refined carbohydrates, and calories. Consumption of these foods contributes to weight gain. Excess body weight is linked to type 2 diabetes, and the body becomes less sensitive to the effects of insulin (a condition known as insulin resistance, a pre-cursor to diabetes).
These days, though, children tend not to exercise regularly. Physical education classes in school aren't always mandatory, and recess breaks are short. Kids are often bussed or driven to school. Instead of running around outside, riding bikes, going to the playground, or other such physical pursuits, children can often be found surfing the internet, playing video games, watching TV, or talking on their cell phones.
Type 2 diabetes in children is on the increase. Modern conveniences and a busy lifestyle can make it all too easy to engage in poor eating and exercise habits. Fortunately, lifestyle changes can help to delay or even prevent the onset of diabetes in children.