Obese children at risk for developing diabetes influenced by changes in how their body processes sugar and by changes in body fat cells.

diabPrevious studies have linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Two studies presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 74th Scientific Sessions illustrated the changes that the body goes through which determines how diabetes begins at an early age.

A study presented by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, compared how the brains of adolescents and adults differed in their response to ingestion of a glucose drink. It was determined that in adolescents, glucose increased the blood flow in the implicated in reward-motivation and decision-making, whereas in adults, it decreased the blood flow in these regions.

“While we cannot speculate directly about how glucose ingestion may influence behavior, certainly we have shown that there are differences in how adults and adolescents respond to glucose,” said lead researcher Ania Jastreboff, MD, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine.

“This is important because adolescents are the highest consumers of dietary added sugars. This is just the first step in understanding what is happening in the adolescent brain in response to consumption of sugary drinks. Ultimately, it will be important to investigate whether such exposure to sugar during adolescence impacts food and drink consumption, and whether it relates to the development of obesity.”

The second study presented by researchers in Germany at the University Children’s Hospital in Leipzig, compared fat cell composition and biology in lean and and adolescents. It was determined that as children become obese, beginning as early as age six, there was an increase in the number of fat cells. These cells are also correspondingly larger in size than the cells found in the bodies of lean children. In general there was dysfunction in the metabolism of fat cells by obese children, including signs of inflammation, which can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes and other problems, such as high blood pressure.

“Our shows that start to have not only more but also larger adipocytes, or fat cells, at a very young age and that this is associated with increased inflammation and is linked to impaired metabolic function,” said lead researcher Antje Körner, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Pediatric Researcher at the Pediatric Center, University Children’s Hospital, Leipzig. “What we were interested in was seeing whether something was already going on with the adipose tissue itself if the children become obese at an early age, and it appears that there is. It’s important because this can contribute to the development of comorbidities of obesity in children, such as diabetes.”


American Diabetes Association. “Diabetes risk: Understanding how children’s bodies process foods.”

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