Diabetes cases among American youth have been on the increase in recent decades, with the number of people under age 20 living with type 2 diabetes alone increasing by 95% between 2001 and 2017. Now, a new study finds those figures could skyrocket even more.
Recent research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health found that by 2060, cases of type 2 diabetes among Americans under the age of 20 could increase by up to 700%. Meanwhile, type 1 diabetes cases could increase by up to 65%. If such projections hold, it would mean 526,000 youth would have either form of diabetes by 2060, compared with 213,000 in 2017.
The research found that even if incidence rates remain the same as in 2017 over the coming decades, there would still be an increase of almost 70% in type 2 diabetes cases and 3% for type 1.
Dr. Debra Houry, the CDC’s Acting Principal Deputy Director, says, “This new research should serve as a wake-up call for all of us. It’s vital that we focus our efforts to ensure all Americans, especially our young people, are the healthiest they can be. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored how critically important it is to address chronic diseases, like diabetes. This study further highlights the importance of continuing efforts to prevent and manage chronic diseases, not only for our current population but also for generations to come.”
The report finds that there could be a few factors behind these increases, including higher levels of childhood obesity, as well as prevalent diabetes in people of childbearing age, as maternal diabetes is linked with an increased risk for children to develop the disease.
The report also found that projections differed by race and ethnicity, with type 2 diabetes rates projected to be higher among Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native youth. The CDC says this highlights the need to address disparities in health outcomes.
Dr. Christopher Holliday, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, says, “Increases in diabetes—especially among young people—are always worrisome, but these numbers are alarming. This study’s startling projections of type 2 diabetes increases show why it is crucial to advance health equity and reduce the widespread disparities that already take a toll on people’s health.”
The CDC reminds Americans that it offers tips on preventing type 2 diabetes. To read them, click here.