A modeling study published in Diabetes Care predicts that in the United States, as many as 220,000 young people under age 20 will have type 2 diabetes by 2060—an increase of nearly 700%.
The study also found that young people with type 1 diabetes, which remains more common in the U.S. youth, could increase by as much as 65% by 2060. Researchers estimate that as many as 526,000 young people may have diabetes (types 1 and 2) in the next 40 years. This is a substantial increase from the 213,000 young people who had diabetes in 2017.
What’s more, it is predicted that Latino, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native youth will bear a higher burden of type 2 diabetes.
“This new research should serve as a wake-up call for all of us. It’s vital that we focus our efforts to ensure all Americans, especially our young people, are the healthiest they can be,” said Debra Houry, MD, MPH, the acting principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a CDC news release. “The COVID-19 pandemic underscored how critically important it is to address chronic diseases, like diabetes. This study further highlights the importance of continuing efforts to prevent and manage chronic diseases, not only for our current population but also for generations to come.”
Researchers emphasize the fact that people with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing heart disease or stroke as well as diabetes complications and premature death compared with those who do not have diabetes.
“Increases in diabetes—especially among young people—are always worrisome, but these numbers are alarming,” said Christopher Holliday, PhD, MPH, the director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “This study’s startling projections of type 2 diabetes increases show why it is crucial to advance health equity and reduce the widespread disparities that already take a toll on people’s health.”
To learn more, click Tu Salud’s Basics on Diabetes. It reads in part:
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that results when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the cells are unable to use it. Insulin is a hormone made by cells in the pancreas that cells use to process glucose (a form of sugar) for energy. When this happens, the body is unable to properly use and store glucose, resulting in the elevated blood sugar levels.
Are there different types of diabetes?
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t make insulin due to destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It typically arises during childhood.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, usually arises later in life. While the body still produces some insulin, cells are unable to use it for energy, a condition known as insulin resistance.
Gestational diabetes affects women during pregnancy, usually around their 24th week.
What are the risk factors for diabetes?
The main risk factor for type 1 diabetes is having family members who have the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, anyone whose mother, father, sister or brother had type 1 diabetes should get screened for the disease. In addition, you’re at risk for type 1 diabetes if you have a history of injury or disease involving the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes may develop after a bacterial or viral infection.
The most common risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include having overweight or obesity and being older than age 45 as well as having high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, polycystic ovary syndrome, a history of diabetes during pregnancy or family members who have the disease.