Suddenly All the Kids Have Diabetes

Illustration for article titled Suddenly All the Kids Have Diabetes

From the way diabetes gets talked about in the news, you'd think that everyone and their brother had it. Well, now it's looking more like everyone and their daughter has it. A new study has just been released which shows a pretty terrifying increase in the rate of diabetes and pre-diabetes among young people. In 2000, only 9 percent of teens were diabetic or pre-diabetic. By 2008, a whopping 23 percent of adolescents are. Jesus H. Christ on a cracker. That is a huge increase in just eight years. One small ray of hope is that the test they used, a fasting blood glucose test, doesn't give as accurate a picture of a person's health because it's a single snapshot of blood sugar rather than an average over time. So that number could be somewhat artificially high. Still, even considering that, this news is not good.


The author of the study, Ashleigh May, who is an epidemiologist for the CDC, calls the findings "very concerning." Pediatric endocrinologist Larry Deeb, who is also a former president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association, says other research shows there could be "a 64% increase in diabetes in the next decade. [...] We are truly in deep trouble. Diabetes threatens to destroy the health care system."

As if that wasn't bad enough, this study also found something else that's equally scary:

[H]alf of overweight teens and almost two-thirds of obese adolescents have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high levels of bad cholesterol. By comparison, about one-third of normal-weight adolescents have at least one risk factor.

While it was already clear that we needed to do something to protect the health of our kids, this data suggests we'd better do something quickly. Not that there's any easy way to fix this problem, especially among modern teens who already have so many other things to worry about, like being bullied and not getting caught in a sexting scandal. Perhaps it's time to call upon some kind of health superhero. Will Mr. Metabolic Syndrome save the day and defeat evil Dr. Diabetes? Blood Sugar Man to the rescue? Can we even just get Jack Black in a spandex suit doing PSAs? Someone? Anyone? Help.

Youth diabetes, pre-diabetes rates soar [USA Today]

Image via Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock.


anastasia beaverhousen

The clinical guidelines for diagnosis of pre-diabetes changes a lot. In 2007, the number itself was changed by one point (it was 7, now it's 6) and was universally adopted by front-line clinitians (PCPs, paediatricians) and it is not a clear-cut diagnosis. In fact, you need three high numbers in a row to diagnose pre-diabetes. So this article is a bucket of speculation and sensationalism. A much better test is the HBA-1c as it shows an average of glucose blood levels over three months. Again though, this test is only accurate if taken quarterly. So yes, let's test for pre-diabetes in heavy kids but let's also tell them (and their parents) that you can change your blood sugar with exercise and carb reduction. One test doesn't prove anything.