Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents has become a prominent clinical issue in recent decades. Increasing numbers of young people have risk factors for type 2 diabetes, particularly obesity, indicating the need for effective type 2 diabetes prevention strategies. The aim of this review was to identify specific dietary strategies that optimize improvements in risk factors for type 2 diabetes in youth and hence reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes development. Our review of the current literature indicates that dietary interventions lead to weight loss when intervention adherence is high. However, in addition to weight loss, a diet that is reduced in carbohydrates may optimize improvements in other type 2 diabetes risk factors, including insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. While further research is needed to confirm this finding, reduced carbohydrate diets may include a very low-carbohydrate diet, a very low-energy diet, a lower-glycemic-index diet, and/or an intermittent fasting diet. This array of dietary strategies provides a suite of intervention options for clinicians to recommend to young people at risk of type 2 diabetes. However, these findings are in contrast to current guidelines for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in adults which recommends a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.
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