In some medical circles it's called Type 3 Diabetes. Teenagers and young adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, if overweight or obese, can develop type 2 diabetes later in life. It's a double whammy and the medical consequences of such a diagnosis don't look good.
First, let's briefly cover the basics of diabetes.
Diabetes is Elevated Blood Glucose Levels
Higher than normal level of glucose in the blood is diabetes. Glucose is the main energy source for the brain and nerves and comes from digesting carbohydrates. Because of its importance as an energy source, glucose blood level is normally kept within a narrow range.
Two hormones help to keep glucose in this normal range. First, there is insulin. Insulin is released by the pancreas as glucose levels rise after a meal. It promotes the uptake of glucose by muscle cells. Second, is glucogon. This hormone causes the release of glucose out of energy stores during fasting. The insulin to glucogon ratio helps to stabilize the normal levels of blood glucose.
Two Types of Diabetes
In order to have consistently high blood glucose levels either insulin production and/or release from the pancreas is defective or the muscles don't respond to insulin when it is released.
Juvenile or Type 1 Diabetes -- Insulin production is defective. Most often detected early in life. These patients require insulin shots.
Adult Onset or Type 2 Diabetes -- The muscles don't respond to insulin. In this case, glucose stays within the blood and not in the tissues. The early stage is called Insulin Resistance. Type 2 is associated with being overweight or obese.
The Atypical Type of Diabetes -- Double Diabetes or Type 3
A young man who has type I diabetes, if he does not follow a proper diabetic diet and an exercise program, could develop type 2 diabetes on top of his type I diagnosis.
This is a fear turned into reality for many type I diabetics and their families. The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh states that 25% of children with type I diabetes are showing features of type 2. The main feature shared by all of these children...obesity. Dr. Dorothy Becker, a pediatric endocrinologist and leading double-diabetes researcher, feels the numbers will continue to climb.
And an ongoing study to determine the best treatment for children with type 2 diabetes is also uncovering many kids who harbor antibodies that signal they have or are developing the type 1 form.
No matter which type of diabetes came first in a child, it makes treatment that much harder for everyone involved. So what is the best treatment?
Treating Type 3 Diabetes
The best treatment for type 3 diabetes is prevention. Children, with or without diabetes, must exercise. Toning and building muscle tissue is the only effective way to protect against type 3 diabetes.
Strong muscles are metabolic active and able to uptake glucose as expected when insulin is released into the blood. Parents, start a supervised and doctor approved workout program with your children. Something tells me that we may need a strong future.
To Healthy Living!
Michael A. Smith, MD
Chief Medical Consultant
Diet Basics Website
Dr. Smith is the Chief Medical Consultant for the Diet Basics Website, a content rich weight loss site dedicated to the on-line dieter. Please visit his site at Diet Basics.