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Type 2 diabetes: Study predicts 'surprising' rise in disease among young Americans

A new modeling study is raising alarm bells after determining that the number of young people in the United States with diabetes will increase by nearly 700% over the next 40 years.

The study, titled “Projections of the Burden of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in the US Population Under 20 Years to 2060: The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study,” was published in the journal Diabetes Care on December 29, 2022.

The study authors predicted that there could be 220,000 people under the age of 20 with type 2 diabetes in the year 2060 — an increase of about 675% over the number of young people with type 2 diabetes in 2017.

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“This new research should serve as a wake-up call for all of us. It is vital that we focus our efforts to ensure that all Americans, especially our young people, are as healthy as possible,” said CDC Acting Deputy Director, Debra Houry. , MD, MPH, in a statement released Dec. 29.

Houry added, “This study further highlights the importance of continued efforts to prevent and manage chronic disease, not just for our current population, but also for future generations.”

People with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar to ensure it is at a safe level.

People with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar to ensure it is at a safe level.
(iStock)

Type 1 diabetes mellitus, or type 1 diabetes, was formerly known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.

It has no known cause and is suspected to be linked to genetic or environmental factors, notes the Mayo Clinic website.

People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin and must take insulin to survive.

Type 2 diabetes refers to a condition in which a person’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin and the cells become resistant to insulin.

Typically, people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as children; however, it can occur at any age, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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In contrast, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or type 2 diabetes, was formerly called adult-onset diabetes, notes the Mayo Clinic website.

It is linked to obesity and inactivity.

Type 2 diabetes refers to a condition in which a person’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin and the cells become resistant to insulin.

This results in a spike in a person’s blood sugar, which can be dangerous over time, says the Mayo Clinic.

Diet and exercise are two ways people can manage type 2 diabetes, says the Mayo Clinic.

Diet and exercise are two ways people can manage type 2 diabetes, says the Mayo Clinic.
(iStock)

This condition cannot be cured.

However, it can be controlled with medication, proper diet and exercise.

In the study, researchers found that if the incidence rate of all types of diabetes in 2017 among young people remains the same through 2060, the total number of young people with diabetes would increase from 213,000 to 239,000 – a 12% increase.

Over the past two decades, however, the number of young people with type 2 diabetes “has increased substantially,” the CDC said.

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The CDC believes that “the rising prevalence of childhood obesity” as well as “the presence of diabetes in people of reproductive age” may be two reasons why the number of young people with type 2 diabetes has risen so rapidly.

Those with type 2 diabetes may need the help of medications to better control their blood sugar.

Those with type 2 diabetes may need the help of medications to better control their blood sugar.
(iStock)

When the percentage increase in the number of young people with type 2 diabetes between 2002 and 2017 is applied to future generations, the researchers found that the number of young people with diabetes could reach 526,000.

“Increases in diabetes — especially among young people — are always concerning, but these numbers are alarming,” Christopher Holliday, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, said in the press release for the CDC study.

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Race and ethnicity are believed to play a role, the study said.

He found that there is likely to be “a greater burden of type 2 diabetes for black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native youth.”

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“This study’s staggering projections of the rise in type 2 diabetes show why it is crucial to promote health equity and reduce the pervasive disparities that already affect people’s health,” said Holliday.

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