Type 2 Diabetes in the Teen Years

A child from Montenegro - Photo by: Alexandra Zakharova

Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body makes and uses the hormone insulin. For those with type 2 diabetes, the body can produce insulin, but either does not produce enough insulin or does not use the insulin effectively. Each year, about 3,700 people under age 20 are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and that number is rising. Type 2 diabetes in children and teens can be caused by poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. In the teen years, puberty can make managing type 2 diabetes more difficult.


Teens and their parents may find that blood sugar levels are higher once puberty hits. For many, it is difficult to figure out what’s making these numbers jump. While diet or insulin may be the culprit, it is often hormones that can cause glucose levels to jump around during puberty.

One research study showed that as children enter puberty, the body can become more resistant to insulin. In children without diabetes, the body can adjust. For teens with diabetes, this change can cause blood glucose levels to be higher. With proper diabetes management and the right healthcare team, this can be managed more easily. One of the best ways to help manage symptoms is through modern tools like an insulin pump with continuous glucose monitoring. Using the data from the insulin pump, a doctor can tweak the right amount of insulin being delivered and suggest a regime that will keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range. Modern touchscreen insulin pumps that look and feel like smartphones are simple to learn for younger people, and can provide a level of discretion many young people prefer to maintain around their diabetes.

A Healthy Lifestyle

With type 2 diabetes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important part of care. It is extremely important to eat a healthy. During puberty, teenagers can experience an increased appetite, which can contribute to poor food choices. Seeing a dietitian to understand exactly how different foods affect blood sugar levels can have a positive effect on diabetes care.

Regular exercise is another important factor in controlling blood sugars. Enrolling in some type of physical activity can be beneficial for diabetes symptoms and for overall physical and mental health.

The Importance of Staying Healthy

A healthy type 2 diabetes management plan should include routine habits of healthy eating, glucose monitoring, and exercise. Work with your teenager’s doctors to design a management plan that contributes to a healthy and happy lifestyle.