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Adolescents with Type 2 diabetes would consider surgery

4 November 2014

Obesity is the main cause of Type 2 diabetes in adolescents and is usually treated with lifestyle changes, in combination with drugs such as insulin and metformin. But researchers have found that adolescents struggle to maintain lifestyle changes and have recommended that weight loss surgery and the drug liraglutide should be given greater consideration as a potential treatments for adolescent Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers, from the universities of Bristol, Birmingham, Imperial College and Cambridge conducted in-depth interviews with adolescents who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The participants reported that liraglutide helped weight loss and blood glucose control. But the drug has not yet been approved for use in adolescents and can only be prescribed off licence. The researchers suggested that greater consideration should also given to the use of weight loss surgery, as they found adolescents view surgery as an acceptable treatment for adolescent Type 2 diabetes in certain circumstances.

The study has recently been published in the journal Diabetic Medicine. Other findings presented indicate that participants described insulin, metformin and liraglutide as effective but, in some cases, as resulting in side effects. Injected treatments were viewed less favourably than oral medications and weight loss surgery was considered an acceptable treatment for obese adolescents who had tried other treatments for their diabetes.

Katrina Turner from the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol said: “Some of the adolescents had not been surprised by their diagnosis and did not fully appreciate the implications of having diabetes. It was also evident that some individuals had not told peers about their diagnosis due to fearing how they would react. Adolescents want treatments that are effective, discrete, easy to take and do not make them different from their peers.”

Adolescents place great importance on peer relations and treatments not being a source of stigma.

“Adolescents basically want the same things from their treatment as adults, but they don’t want to be stigmatised,” said Turner. “When considering interventions, practitioners should bear this in mind. They also need to ensure that adolescents appreciate the implications of having diabetes and may want to address adolescents’ concerns regarding how others view this condition.”

Further information

Adolescents' views and experiences of treatments for Type 2 diabetes: a qualitative study
K. M. Turner, J. Percival, D. B. Dunger, T. Olbers, T. Barrett and J. P. H. Shield

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