Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes in Youth

  1. Silva Arslanian, MD
  1. Division of Weight Management and Wellness, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes Mellitus, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  1. Corresponding author: Silva Arslanian, silva.arslanian{at}

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common among youth, in parallel with the increasing prevalence of obesity in pediatrics. Despite this, therapeutic modalities remain extremely limited, with scanty data regarding appropriate treatment, desired glycemic targets, and management of associated comorbidities and complications. Management of type 2 diabetes in youth, both acute and long term, should occur in specialty tertiary care pediatric centers. Health care providers should address the pathophysiological components of insulin resistance and decline in β-cell function, aiming to preserve the latter while improving the former. Addressing comorbidities, namely hypertension and dyslipidemia, which are currently inadequately addressed, should be properly assessed and tracked. Further research is critical to establish treatment goals and develop effective diabetes management strategies that will not only enhance adherence to treatment recommendations, but also effectively manage comorbidities and prevent micro- and macrovascular complications.

With the escalating rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes is increasing (1,2), not only in adults but also in youth. In the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, it is estimated that the number of adolescents per year diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is ~3,700 and increasing (2,3). Despite this, there is a dearth of approved therapeutic options.

The UK Prospective Diabetes Study showed that intensive glucose therapy for adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes was associated with a decreased risk of microvascular complications and, among individuals who were >120% above their ideal body weight, with a decreased risk of myocardial infarction and death from any cause (4). In patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a younger age, there may be more aggressive development of diabetes complications, including myocardial infarction and microalbuminuria (5). Given these considerations, it is critical to have treatment options for adolescents with type 2 diabetes that optimize diabetes control and reduce complications. …

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