A fifth of US teens and a quarter of young adults have prediabetes, CDC data reveal
- Researchers reviewed data from 5,800 teens and young adults between 2005 and 2016
- They found 18% of teens and 24% of young adults had dangerously high blood sugar levels
- Males were twice as likely to have prediabetes, and Hispanic young adults had the highest rates
One in five US adolescents, and one in four young adults, have prediabetes, according to a new study of government data.
Records show 18 percent of 12- to 18-year-olds, and 24 percent of adults aged 19 to 34 have prediabetes, meaning they have unhealthily high blood sugar levels, but their condition is reversible.
Once a patient passes the threshold of type 2 diabetes, it is not reversible.
Responding to the report, Dr Robert R Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said poor diets, lack of exercise, and stress among young people today are to blame.
‘The prevalence of prediabetes in adolescents and young adults reinforces the critical need for effective public health strategies that promote healthy eating habits, physical activity, and stress management,’ Dr Redfield said.
‘These lifestyle behaviors can begin early in a child’s life and should continue through adolescence and adulthood to reduce onset of type 2 diabetes.’
Previously, the most common type of diabetes among children and young people was type 1 diabetes, a condition thought to be caused by genes or the environment, making the body chronically resistant to insulin.
Type 2 diabetes has long been more common among adults, because it is closely associated with poor diet and lack of exercise.
For adults, it’s more common to have spent years consuming a sugary and fatty diet, and to spend hours during the day or after work lying on the sofa.
Children tend to be more active, and even if they eat candy, it would have to be excessive to trigger prediabetes.
The new data, published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, was gathered by analyzing responses from 5,800 people who answered a national health survey between 2005 to 2016.
It showed staggering rates of prediabetes, particularly in males, who were twice as likely to have pre-diabetes.
Rates were highest among Hispanic young adults and lowest among white young adults.
‘We’re already seeing increased rates of type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications in youth and young adults, and these new findings are evidence of a growing epidemic and a tremendously worrisome threat to the future of our nation’s health,’ said Dr Ann Albright, director of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.
‘Additional research is needed to support the development of interventions for youth and increasing access to programs that we know work for young adults, like the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program.’