Type 2 di­a­betes on rise in mi­nori­ties, peo­ple un­der 19

About 29 mil­lion peo­ple are liv­ing with con­di­tion, 208,000 are un­der 20

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY LAURA KELLY

A new study shows sharp in­creases in di­a­betes among young peo­ple and mi­nori­ties.

Across racial groups and gen­der, re­searchers found a 4.8 per­cent in­crease in type 2 di­a­betes for youths be­tween 10 and 19 years old, and a 1.8 per­cent in­crease in type 1 di­a­betes among those aged 0 to 19 years old.

Re­searchers also found a sharp in­crease of new di­ag­nosed cases of type 2 di­a­betes in mi­nori­ties, in­clud­ing an 8.9 per­cent in­crease for Na­tive Amer­i­cans, an 8.5 per­cent in­crease for Asian Amer­i­cans/Pa­cific Is­landers and a 6.3 per­cent in­crease for non-His­panic blacks.

The na­tional SEARCH for Di­a­betes in Youth Study was con­ducted in five states — South Carolina, Ohio, Colorado, Cal­i­for­nia and Wash­ing­ton. It was funded by the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Di­a­betes and Di­ges­tive and Kid­ney Dis­eases (NIDDK) and the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC).

The most re­cent find­ings were pub­lished in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine last week.

Di­a­betes is a con­di­tion in which the body does not cre­ate enough in­sulin to con­trol the body’s blood sugar lev­els. This lack of in­sulin can harm the body with dis­eases of the heart, kid­neys, eyes and ner­vous sys­tem.

About 29 mil­lion peo­ple in the U.S. are liv­ing with di­ag­nosed or un­di­ag­nosed di­a­betes, and 208,000 peo­ple younger than 20 are liv­ing with di­ag­nosed di­a­betes, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion In­sti­tutes of Health.

Di­a­betes ac­counts for more than 76,000 deaths in the U.S. an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

The on­set of type 1 — which typ­i­cally man­i­fests around pu­berty but can be seen in peo­ple as young as 6 or as old as 60 — comes with a va­ri­ety of symp­toms such as ex­ces­sive thirst, fre­quent uri­na­tion, un­ex­plained weight loss and blurred vi­sion. A ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion and an en­vi­ron­men­tal trig­ger are thought to cause type 1.

While ge­net­ics play a role in type 2, en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors such as be­ing obese or over­weight con­trib­ute far more to the on­set of the dis­ease.

“We might be see­ing in the fu­ture — or a fu­ture — of pe­di­atric di­a­betes be­ing pre­dom­i­nantly type 2, no longer type 1,” said Dr. Dana Da­be­lea, one of the re­searchers of the study, in a phone in­ter­view from Colorado. “So that was, per­haps, the most shock­ing thing for me.”

Dr. Da­be­lea was one of the first epi­demi­ol­o­gists 25 years ago to find that type 2 di­a­betes was oc­cur­ring in chil­dren and not only adults.

“The rea­sons why we are see­ing these dif­fer­ent rates of in­crease are com­pletely non­genetic, are to­tally en­vi­ron­men­tal,” she said, “be­cause the changes we are see­ing are hap­pen­ing over 10 to 12 years and they can’t be ex­plained by a change in the ge­netic pool of these pop­u­la­tions. These are en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors.”

Ac­cord­ing to the CDC, 17 per­cent of Amer­i­can teenagers are con­sid­ered obese, and another 16 per­cent are over­weight.

There is no cure for di­a­betes, only a pre­scrip­tion of man­age­ment. This in­cludes daily in­sulin ad­min­is­tra­tion, mon­i­tor­ing of blood-glu­cose lev­els and be­ing con­scious of diet and exercise.

Ear­lier data re­leased by the SEARCH study found that young peo­ple with type 2 di­a­betes had higher in­stances of di­a­betes-re­lated health com­pli­ca­tions than those with type 1. At the end of eight years of study, young adults had signs of kid­ney dis­ease, nerve dis­ease, eye dis­ease and mea­sures of two risk fac­tors for heart dis­ease.

“A lot of times these teens are from fam­i­lies that are more so­cially, eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged, with lower in­comes, with lower ed­u­ca­tion, with poorer ac­cess to care,” Dr. Da­be­lea said. “So these are all sys­tem re­lated fac­tors that are con­tribut­ing to the type 2’s de­vel­op­ing more com­pli­ca­tions than type 1’s. The cul­tural fac­tors at the com­mu­nity level, at the peer net­work lev­els, are also very, very im­por­tant.”

For those most at risk for de­vel­op­ing type 2 di­a­betes, Dr. Da­be­lea said a com­pre­hen­sive in­ter­ven­tion and man­age­ment pro­gram must be a pri­or­ity.

The Di­a­betes Pre­ven­tion Pro­gram for adults showed that di­etary changes and in­creased phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity with the goal of weight loss was proven to pre­vent type 2 di­a­betes.

Dr. Da­be­lea said it’s es­sen­tial that a pro­gram like this be­gin to be im­ple­mented for chil­dren.


In a study last week by the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine, re­searchers found that rates of type 2 di­a­betes are on the rise among young peo­ple and racial mi­norites.

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