Studies Examine Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Obesity Among Children

Armen Hareyan's picture

The current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Associationfocuses on children and includes studies on chronic disease, diabetesand obesity. The following summarizes news coverage of the studieshighlighting findings about minority children.

  • Chronicdisease: The number of U.S. youth with chronic diseases has quadrupledsince the time when their parents were children, according to acommentary piece in JAMA, Bloomberg Newsreports. Obesity has increased nearly fourfold in the last threedecades, while asthma rates have doubled since the 1980s, according tothe commentary (Zimm, Bloomberg News, 6/26). Whilechronic disease rates increased for all children, the commentary notesthat black, Hispanic and American Indian youth are disproportionatelyaffected by obesity and asthma (Perrin et al., JAMA, 6/27). An extract of the commentary is available online.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes: According to a study in JAMA, rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are rising among children, USA Todayreports. The study looked at 2,435 youths younger than age 20 who werenewly diagnosed with diabetes in 2002 and 2003. The study said that therate of type 1 diabetes has increased 40% to 60% for white children and20% to 40% for black and Hispanic children over previous estimates(Manning, USA Today, 6/27). Type 2 diabetes "is stillrelatively infrequent; however, the highest rates were observed amongadolescent minority populations," the study said (Writing Group for theSEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study Group, JAMA, 6/27).Lead study author Dana Dabelea of the University of Colorado-Denversaid, "We found overall rates of type 2 diabetes in kids are relativelylow. But 15 years ago, there was no type 2 diabetes in kids. ... Inethnic groups such as American Indians, it is a huge problem"(Steenhuysen, Reuters, 6/26). An abstract of the study is available online.
  • Obesity:Children who participated in a weight-loss program involving theirparents controlled their weight better than children receivingtraditional weight-loss counseling at a clinic, according to another JAMA study (Bloomberg News,6/26). The study examined the Yale Bright Bodies Weight ManagementProgram, which was designed specifically for minority children livingin urban areas and offers family based lifestyle interventions.Researchers examined 209 overweight children from a variety of ethnicbackgrounds and randomly assigned the children to the Yale PediatricObesity Clinic or the Bright Bodies program. Those in the control groupreceived traditional counseling, while those in the Bright Bodiesprogram participated in exercise, nutrition and behavior modification(Savoye et al., JAMA, 6/27). After one year, children inthe family based program maintained their weight and reduced their riskof diabetes, while children in the traditional counseling group hadgained weight and showed signs of increased diabetes risk, the studysaid (Bloomberg News, 6/26). An abstract of the study is available online.

Reprinted with permission from You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.