The number of young people in America with diabetes has doubled since the early 2000s.
New data from the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth found that the estimated rate of those under 20 with type 1 diabetes grew by 45% between 2001 and 2017. Moreover, young people ages 10 to 19 diagnosed with type 2 diabetes increased by 95% during the same time.
The study was funded by both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health.
From Reuters: “Researchers found significant increases in diabetes among both sexes and across racial and ethnic groups. Type 1 diabetes remains more common among white youth. Larger increases in type 2 prevalence were found among young people who are Black or Hispanic. The highest rates of type 2 diabetes were seen in youth who are Black or Native American.”
The exact cause of the serious upswing in diabetes rates is unclear. Researchers have suggested that rising rates of childhood obesity, exposure to obesity and diabetes in utero, and increased diabetes screenings may play a role, per The News Tribune.
“Rising rates of diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, which is preventable, has the potential to create a cascade of poor health outcomes,” said Giuseppina Imperatore, the chief of the surveillance, epidemiology, economics, and statistics branch in the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, in a statement.
Young people with diabetes are more likely to develop complications than those who develop the disease in adulthood. This includes high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, kidney disease, nerve disease, and diabetic disease. Young diabetics are also at a higher risk of premature death.
“Within 15 years of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, 60 percent of participants had at least 1 diabetes-related complication, and nearly a third of participants had 2 or more complications,” reports the National Institute of Health.
An estimated 34 million people have diabetes in the United States. Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease of unknown cause, is less common. To get the pancreas to stop producing the hormone, type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin injections. Roughly 1.6 million Americans have type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is much more prevalent in the U.S. It is estimated that 90% to 95% of diabetic Americans have type 2. People with type 2 diabetes either chronically do not produce enough insulin or do not use it well. It is considered a preventable disease with weight management, diet, and exercise.
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