Warning over projected rise of diabetes in young people in the US

by Sarita Sheth on November 28, 2012

Increasing proportion of youth with diabetes from minority populations

The number of young people with type 2 diabetes in the United States is set to increase by 49% in the next 40 years if incidence rates remain the same, a new study suggests.

Meanwhile the same study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests that the number with type 1 diabetes is expected to grow by 23%.

However, if incidence increases, the number of youths with type 2 could quadruple and the number with type 1 could triple, the researchers concluded, with an increasing proportion from minority populations.

Estimates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes incidence rates are based on the results of SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth, a multicenter study of childhood diabetes.

The projected rise in type 2 diabetes highlights the dire need for better prevention strategies, according to Robert Ratner, the American Diabetes Association’s chief scientific and medical officer.

‘If we are to avoid the catastrophic impact on our citizenry, our health care system and our economy, we must aggressively address the issue of early detection and treatment, and prevention,’ he said.

‘With diabetes already responsible for over 25% of the Medicare budget, the increase in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in youth sends an alarm that the future of the US health delivery system will be overwhelmed unless prevention of diabetes becomes our next major health care goal,’ he added.

The researchers emphasised that little is known about how to prevent type 1 diabetes, which most often is diagnosed during childhood, and more research is needed in this area. However, there is a great deal of research showing that increased physical activity and weight loss can significantly reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes in adults. More research is needed to determine the best and most appropriate ways to prevent type 2 diabetes in young people, they conclude.

‘As these youth age, having diabetes profoundly affects their productivity, quality of life, and life expectancy and increases health care costs. Even in childhood, the medical expenditures of youth with diabetes are approximately 6.2 times of those without diabetes,’ the study says.

‘The health care system and society as a whole will need to plan and prepare for the delivery of quality health care to meet the needs of the growing number of youth with diabetes. This may need to include the training of additional health care professionals to treat and manage children and adolescents with type 1 and type 2 diabetes,’ it adds.

The authors also noted that the US Census Bureau projects an increase in minority youth over the next several decades, leading them to conclude that by 2050, about half of those with type 1 diabetes will be from minority/ethnic groups, who are also more likely to be from lower income families, which could affect their access to quality health care.

‘Our projections indicate a serious picture of the future national diabetes burden in youth. Even if the diabetes incidence remains at 2002 levels, as result of the population growth projected by the US Census, the future number of youth with diabetes is projected to increase, resulting in increased health care needs and costs,’ the report points out.

‘Future planning should include strategies for implementing childhood obesity prevention programs and primary prevention programs for youth at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Likewise, effective interventions for the prevention of diabetes related complications should be available to all youth with diabetes.

‘It remains crucial to continuously monitor diabetes trends at the population level, as well as diabetes related complications and quality of diabetes care among youth,’ it concludes.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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