“Previously insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes were conditions almost only seen in adults but these conditions are now being diagnosed in children and adolescents.
Health lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and developing healthy food choices and eating habits can help young children and adolescents reduce their risk of developing these conditions.”
Dr Christine Bennett
Chair, Medical Advisory Panel, Bupa Australia
Insulin resistance is a condition where the body produces insulin but doesn’t respond to it properly. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the body use glucose for energy. The body breaks food down into glucose, which insulin then helps cells to absorb.
When people are insulin resistant, their muscle, fat and liver do not respond properly to insulin and their bodies need more of it to help glucose enter cells. As a result the body produces more insulin and eventually the pancreas has difficulty keeping up with the demand. People with insulin resistance have higher levels of insulin and glucose in their blood.
Your chances of developing insulin resistance are increased by factors such as a family history of diabetes, being overweight or obese and physical inactivity. Insulin resistance increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Read more about type 2 diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, although not high enough to be called diabetes. People with insulin resistance and pre-diabetes usually have no symptoms or other warning signs, so you may have one or both conditions for several years without even knowing it.
Your doctor will organise for a blood test to check blood glucose levels. They may also order an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to find out how well sugar is absorbed in your body. The results from these tests can help show if your blood glucose level and response to glucose are in the normal, insulin resistant, pre-diabetes or diabetes range.
The main aim of treating insulin resistance and pre-diabetes is to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. This usually involves lifestyle changes such as:
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). A Picture of Australia's Children. Cat. no. PHE 112. [online] Canberra, ACT: AIHW. Jun 2009. [Accessed 6 July 2011] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468252&libID=6442468250
Diabetes Australia. Pre-diabetes information sheet. [online] Canberra, ACT: Diabetes Australia. c2011 [Accessed 7 July 2011] Available from: http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC). Insulin resistance. [online] Bethseda, MD: NDIC. 2008 [accessed 7 Jul 2011] Available from: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/
Last published: 30 October 2011
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