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Diabetes Rates in American Children Skyrocket

The prevalence of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes has increased significantly among American children and adolescents between the years 2001 and 2009, a new study has found.

Dana Dabelea, M.D., Ph.D., of the Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, Colo., and Dr. Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, along with colleagues from SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study, examined whether the overall prevalence of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes among American youth has changed in recent years, and if  sex, age, and race-ethnicity can be correlated.

The study population came from five centers located in California, Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington State, as well as data from selected American Indian reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.

  • The rate of Type 1 diabetes in people under the age of 19 rose from 14.8 per every 10,000 persons in 2001 to 19.3 per every 10,000 persons in 2009. The greatest prevalence increase was in youths ages 15 through 19 years; in both sexes and all races.
  • The rate for Type 2 diabetes jumped from 3.4 per 10,000 in 2001 to 4.6 in 2009.
  • Type 1 diabetes was found to be most common among whites.
  • Type 2 diabetes was most common among Blacks and American Indians.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) said that Type 1 diabetes, which used to be called juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune condition is which the body no longer creates insulin, or enough insulin to regulate the sugar in the blood.  Throughout medical history, this was most often diagnosed in young people.

Type 2 diabetes, used to be called adult-onset diabetes, usually begins with insulin resistance. This is a condition when fat, muscle, and liver cells do not use insulin to carry sugar into the body’s cells to use for energy. At first, the body will try to keep up with the demand by creating more insulin. However over time, it may not be able to produce enough insulin. Traditionally, Type 2 diabetes occurred in middle-aged and older adults, as well as overweight and inactive adults. But an alarming rate of young adults and children are being diagnosed with this condition.

“For Type 2 diabetes on the other hand, since that’s so closely related to obesity, it’s likely that implementing programs for kids and families being careful of certain things from very early in life is going to be important,”  Dabelea said to Yahoo! News.

The results are published in JAMA Pediatrics on May 3.

“The increases in prevalence reported herein are important because such youth with diabetes will enter adulthood with several years of disease duration, difficulty in treatment, an increased risk of early complications, and increased frequency of diabetes during reproductive years, which may further increase diabetes in the next generation,” the researchers wrote. “Further studies are required to determine the causes of these increases.”

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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