Diabetes is an evolving disease, with changing patterns seen in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. A wide (over 400-fold) variation exists in worldwide incidence rates of type 1 diabetes, with the highest occurring in Finland (over 45 per 100,000 under the age of 15 years) and the lowest in parts of China. In many countries (e.g. in Europe, the Middle East, Australia) the incidence of autoimmune-mediated type 1 diabetes in children <15 years of age has risen by 2–5% per annum. Type 2 diabetes is also increasing rapidly globally and is occurring at a younger age, including in adolescence and childhood. In the USA, approximately one third of newly diagnosed in the adolescent age group is type 2, with up to 20% presenting with ketosis and ketoacidosis. The management of type 2 diabetes is especially difficult in the adolescent age group. Obesity is the single most obvious risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle modification programmes starting in childhood are urgently needed and society needs to change its attitudes to childhood nutrition, play and exercise.

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