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Diabetes Alarmingly Increasing Among Youth

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Youth Diabetes

Diabetes is on the rise among our nation’s young. According to the results of one of the nation’s largest studies, diabetes is alarmingly increasing among children and young adults of every ethnic and racial group.

The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, published in the March supplement of Diabetes Care, is a compilation of studies from multiple centers. Statistics show that one in about 4,200 youth develop type 1 diabetes each year. The study looked at diabetes incidence and risk among youth in America from all ethnic and racial groups, before age 20.

Ronny A. Bell, Ph.D, author of "Diabetes in non-Hispanic White Youth” says, "The incidence rate of type 1 diabetes among U.S. non-Hispanic white youth is today one of the highest in the world.”

A second study, included in the SEARCH study, showed that Type 2 diabetes is highest in Hispanics living in America, in all youth age groups. Girls, age 15 to 19 have a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes among Hispanic Americans compared to Hispanic American males.

Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health chaired the SEARCH study, in addition to authoring the study "Diabetes in African-American Youth." According to Mayer-Davis, fifty-percent of black youth, age 15 and older, have poorly controlled blood sugars, putting them at risk for long-term, serious health problems. Type 1 diabetes among black youth is much more prevalent than anticipated. Type 1 diabetes affects all black youth who have been diagnosed with diabetes and under age 10.

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Asian youth and those from the Pacific Islands are found to be at high risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Annual incidence of diabetes is one in about 8,200 among youth from Asia and the Pacific. The study, "Diabetes in Asian and Pacific Islander Youth”, authored by Lenna Liu, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital, revealed that Asian and Pacific Islander youth living in the United States had a higher risk of type 1 diabetes than those living in Asia and Western Pacific areas.

The highest risk of Type 2, versus Type 1 diabetes was found among Navajo youth – the annual rate is one in 2,542 Navajo youth. Navajo chldren also have the highest incidence of severe depression.

As our young get older, the risk of heart disease and complications from diabetes would be expected to impose a significant health burden, that can only lead to poor quality of life.

The study shows that public health campaigns, combined with targeted interventions are desperately needed for diabetes prevention and treatment. High fat diets, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and lower socioeconomic status all contribute to the alarming increase of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in our nation’s youth.

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To the author, Kathleen Blanch, you stated that "High fat diets, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and lower socioeconomic status all contribute to the alarming increase of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in our nation’s youth." Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune disease - our daughter is 9 years old and was recently diagnosed with Type 1 - she was an incredibly healthy girl up to this point of diagnosis. There are many that do not understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Those with type 1 (formally referred to as Juvenile diabetes) have not led unheatlhy lives, nor is there a way to prevent it. Type 1 cannot be controled by diet only - those with type one produce no insulin whatsoever - where those with type 2 do produce some insulin and diet can actually reverse the disease if diligent enough. Bottom line - there is a huge difference between type 1 and 2!