Researchers don't fully understand why some children develop type 2 diabetes and others don't, even if they have similar risk factors. It's clear that certain factors increase the risk, however, including:

  • Weight. Being overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes in children. The more fatty tissue a child has, the more resistant his or her cells become to insulin. However, weight isn't the only factor in developing type 2 diabetes. Some children with type 2 diabetes are normal weight.
  • Inactivity. The less active your child is, the greater his or her risk of type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps your child control his or her weight, uses glucose as energy, and makes your child's cells more responsive to insulin.
  • Family history. The risk of type 2 diabetes significantly increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes — but it's difficult to tell if this is related to lifestyle, genetics or both.
  • Race. Although it's unclear why, children of certain races — especially blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders — are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Sex. Type 2 diabetes is more common in girls than in boys during childhood.
Mar. 09, 2013