Soaring obesity in US ­children is creating a dramatic increase in the number taking medicines for type-II diabetes and those with diabetes-related conditions, according to a Financial Times analysis of prescription data.

The analysis, for the FT by Medco, the largest US drug benefits manager, found the number of children taking medicine for Type-II diabetes more than doubled between 2001 and 2005.

In addition, an alarming percentage of children taking Type-II diabetes drugs were found to be taking drugs for serious chronic conditions that normally afflict adults and that are often related to obesity and diabetes, such as hypertension, high cholesterol and asthma.

The steady rise in children using diabetes medicines highlights the increasing public health problem of obesity in the US and around the world. Type-II diabetes was once known as adult-onset diabetes, in which obese or older adults developed insulin resistance and related complications.

Dr Robert Epstein, chief medical officer for Medco, said the children resembled older adults facing chronic problems: "You don't envision that so many kids are taking multiple medications. These kids clearly have a constellation of problems. It looks like the same thing is playing out in children...We really need to take a swipe at obesity."

Detailed data on the problem of Type-II diabetes in children is sparse. But the predictions of diabetes prevalence around the world are dire. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that global prevalence of diabetes might jump to7.3 per cent, or 380m people, in 2025, from 6 per cent and 246m this year. About 6 per cent of the US population, or 18m people, had diabetes in 2002, the American Diabetes Association says.

Type-II diabetes is a growing form of the disease because of its relationship with obesity, and accounts for 90-95 per cent of all cases. In type-II diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin, unlike Type-I where the body does not make enough insulin and requires injections.

Medco's analysis of prescription data, which it plans to include in its Drug Trends symposium this week, found a 146 per cent increase over four years in young people aged 10-19 taking Type-II drugs, and 115 per cent increase in all children in the sample.

In Medco data from 2006, children on diabetes medicines also faced other serious problems. About 17 per cent of the boys and 13 per cent of the girls were on drugs for high blood pressure; 5 per cent of both were taking cholesterol-reducing drugs; and nearly 20 per cent were taking narcotic pain relievers, drugs for respiratory conditions and anti­depressants.

Medco reviewed samples of 500,000-600,000 children each year. Of those aged 10-19, about 1.47 per 1,000 were taking type-II diabetes drugs with a clear rising trend.