The number of Type 2 diabetes diagnoses among Americans aged 10 to 19 almost doubled between 2001 and 2017, according to a study that elevates concerns about the chronic disease’s prevalence among youth.
The research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday determined that diagnoses of Type 2 diabetes among those 10-19 grew by 95 percent in the 16-year period.
The number of people younger than 20 with Type 1 diabetes — the more common type among American youth — increased by 45 percent in the time period.
The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health, found “significant increases” of both types of diabetes among both sexes and each racial or ethnic minority group.
Giuseppina Imperatore, the chief of the surveillance, epidemiology, economics and statistics branch in the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, said in a statement that a rise in diabetes among youth is “always troubling.”
“Rising rates of diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, which is preventable, has the potential to create a cascade of poor health outcomes,” Imperatore said. “Compared to people who develop diabetes in adulthood, youth are more likely to develop diabetes complications at an earlier age and are at higher risk of premature death.”
Research found that Type 1 diabetes diagnoses are increasing in white and Black communities but Type 2 diabetes is rapidly rising among Black and Hispanic youth.
Jean Lawrence, who co-authored the study, said scientists should research to “better understand the underlying causes of the increase” in diabetes diagnoses.
“Increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes could be caused by rising rates of childhood obesity, in utero exposure to maternal obesity and diabetes, or increased diabetes screenings,” she said. “The impact of diabetes on youth is concerning as it has the potential to negatively impact these youth as they age and could be an early indicator of the health of future generations.”
The study was published the same day that the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force issued guidance recommending Americans who are overweight or obese to get screenings for diabetes at age 35, instead of the previously supported age 40. The U.S. has about 34.2 million people with diabetes in the country.