Diabetes rates may be on the rise among young people in the US, study finds

Diabetes rates may be on the rise among young people in the US, study finds

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The number of people under the age of 20 with type 2 diabetes in the US could increase by nearly 675% by 2060 if trends continue, researchers say, with an increase of up to 65% in young people with type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes — in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin — is more common in young people in the U.S., but type 2 — in which the body doesn’t use insulin the way it should — has “significantly increased” at that age group over the past two decades, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new studypublished this month in the American Diabetes Association’s journal Diabetes Care, used data from the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, which was funded by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers found that if incidence rates from 2017 remain unchanged over the coming decades, the number of young people with both types of diabetes will rise by 12% from 213,000 to 239,000. However, if incidence continues to rise as fast as it has between 2002 and 2017, by 2060 about 526,000 young people may have diabetes.

Researchers say young people who are black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaska Native are likely to have a greater burden of type 2 diabetes than white people.

The significant increase in expected rates of type 2 diabetes may have several causes, including rising rates of childhood obesity and the presence of diabetes in people of childbearing age, the CDC says.

People with diabetes are at risk of complications, including nerve damage, vision and hearing problems, kidney disease, heart disease, and premature death. The disease may worsen more quickly in young people than in adults, requiring earlier medical attention, the researchers noted. This, in turn, could increase demand on US health care systems and lead to higher health care costs.

“This new research should serve as a wake-up call for us all. It is vital that we focus our efforts on ensuring that all Americans, especially our young people, are as healthy as possible,” Dr. Debra Khoury, CDC acting principal deputy director, said in a statement.

Christopher Holliday, director of the agency’s diabetes translation unit, called the findings “alarming.”

“This study’s startling predictions of an increase in type 2 diabetes show why it is critical to improve health equity and reduce the widespread disparities that already impact people’s health,” he said in a statement.

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