Family Matters

Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. Teens Has Diabetes or Prediabetes

In less than a decade, the proportion of kids ages 12 to 19 with diabetes or prediabetes has jumped from 9% in 1999-2000 to 23% in 2007-2008.

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Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. teens is on the fast track to diabetes, if they don’t already have the disease, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was published Monday in Pediatrics.

In less than a decade, the proportion of kids ages 12 to 19 with diabetes or prediabetes has jumped from 9% in 1999-2000 to 23% in 2007-2008. The statistic is concerning on its own, but considering that the American Heart Association tags diabetes as one of a handful of major “controllable risk factors” for cardiovascular disease, it’s even more important to pay attention.

Cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death among U.S. adults, often leading to stroke and heart attacks. While heart attacks and strokes typically don’t occur until adulthood, CDC researchers found that in many cases, the 3,400 teens studied had an alarming number of cardiovascular risk factors. Most unnerving was the conclusion that 37% of normal-weight teens had at least one risk factor. “I was a little surprised given they are at normal weight,” says Ashleigh May, a CDC epidemiologist and the study’s lead author. “It just speaks to the fact that we have to promote health and wellness for all youth and not just those we know are overweight or obese.”

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Sifting through nine years of comprehensive data from 1999 to 2008 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that 49% of overweight teens and nearly two-thirds of obese teens had one or more risk factors, plus the complicating factor of their weight.

Risk factors included prehypertension/hypertension, borderline and high LDLC (the “bad” cholesterol), low HDLC (the “good” cholesterol) and prediabetes and diabetes.

Among those adolescents who were overweight or obese, 26% also had prehypertension or hypertension, as well as borderline or high LDL. That percentage has not fluctuated significantly since 1999, nor has the proportion of obese teens changed, which may explain why hypertension and “bad” cholesterol rates haven’t jumped.

(MOREType 2 Diabetes Is Tougher to Treat in Kids and Teens)

But with such a sizable increase in the prevalence of teen diabetes, researchers have plenty of work cut out for them. “Will we continue to see this increase or will prediabetes and diabetes also plateau in future years?” says May.

A plateau — or, even better, a decrease — isn’t likely to happen without significant public-health efforts promoting healthy lifestyles.

mjsinIN 1 Like

Healthy lifestyle isn't an issue with type 1 diabetes.   I'm sorry that you feel the need to confuse people more about this disease.

LorimomofT1Dkid 4 Like

My son has Type 1 diabetes and it is NOT something that he can "avoid" by having a healthy lifestyle.  He MUST take insulin no matter how healthy he eats, how thin he is (and he is VERY thin) or how much he exercises (and he is a very active kid).  He has Type 1 diabetes, not Type 2.  You need to do a little more research on the difference between the two.  

cmthomas66 4 Like

You may want to change the picture shown with this online article as well.  What is shown is a picture of a child with Type 1 diabetes.  Very rarely do children with Type 2 have to take injections of insulin, and if their Type 2 diabetes is such that they do need to take injections, they certainly do not look like the child in the picture shown above!

LisaMartinTalberg 4 Like

Please do research on Type 1 diabetes before you start spreading information that is untrue. My son has Type 1 and he cannot "control" this failure of his pancreas,nor did he do anything to cause it!! This is exactly why we need a name change. It is sad when the media, especially someone that is supposed to know what they are writing about, gets the facts wrong.

ChristieMcCartyTrossIversen 6 Like

Our children with Type 1 go through enough prejudice without a reputable magazine such as TIME publishing such falsehoods. 

My daughter was 8 when diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes. She was active, in swimming, dance, baseball, and soccer. She weighed about 50 lbs Fifty. At age eight. Suddenly she was lethargic, lost weight, and urinating all the time. She was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Type 1 Diabetes.  

She is now eighteen. Guess what, she still has it. Why? Because it is an autoimmune disease that will never go away.  We can control it with insulin injection (five a day) and by testing her blood sugar with a finger poke (ten times a day. To date, she has had about 20,000 injections and 100,000 finger pokes. That's a rough estimate. 

Her Type 1 was as avoidable as a thyroid condition, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or any other autoimmune disease.

She has spent her life hearing that if she exercised the diabetes would go away. If she ate only vegetables her diabetes would go away. That she must have eaten too much junk food. 

Please correct this article. Know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2.  You wouldn't blame a five year old with cancer for their disease, why are you blaming our kids?  

MelissaHugheyCornish 2 Like

You are talking about Type 2 diabetes, correct?  Or do you even know?  Type 2 is entirely different than Type 1, which the media does not seem to know or care to differentiate.  My daughter is a Type 1 diabetic and no amount of diet or exercise will allow her pancreas to make insulin.  I'm really tired of people judging me because they don't understand--the media isn't helping with incomplete information.  

MichelleMoranMoriarty 2 Like

You are giving out misinformation. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and there is no cure. It is an autoimmune disease. Do your research before you put info out there. Don't they make you check your facts?!

cmthomas66 2 Like

Please clarify that this article pertains to Type 2 diabetes and not Type 1 diabetes which are two very distinct conditions.  As a parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes, it is very frustrating when Type 1's get lumped in with Type 2's.  Type 2 is a preventable and reversable condition, usually related to a poor diet and lack of exercise.  Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, is not preventable or reversable, but is however controllable with proper medical care. 

cmthomas66 1 Like

Also, a much smaller percentage of the population has Type 1; not sure of the facts, but probably only about 1% or less of the world's population.