Earlier this week, National Public Radio announced a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the climbing rates of teen diabetes. Researchers analyzed data from 3,383 youths ages 12 to 19 and found that the proportion of those with diabetes or prediabetes more than doubled in less than 10 years — from 9 percent in 1999 to 23 percent in 2008.
Before the childhood obesity epidemic, type 2 diabetes was rarely seen in children. In fact, this type of diabetes was commonly called “adult-onset” diabetes. But now with the marked rise of type 2 diabetes in children, researchers, public health experts and doctors are alarmed because of the serious health implications of having type 2 diabetes, particularly at a young age. Not only is diabetes costly to monitor and treat, but, if not well-managed, it can lead to serious health problems including blindness, nerve damage, amputations, and increased risks of heart attacks and strokes. The study also cited increasingly high blood pressure and high cholesterol among the 12 to 19 year olds studied. The conditions are life-changing at any age, but are particularly tragic at such a young stage of life.
The early onset of diabetes creates new challenges as patients and their doctors try to manage a life-long disease claiming younger victims. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease implores both the public and private sectors to pay attention to the growing diabetes epidemic in America and focus greater attention on the need for better obesity and diabetes prevention, screening to catch problems early, and management avoid the progression of diabetes and its costly complications.