One in five USA adolescents is now prediabetic, study says

1 in 5 US adolescents is now prediabetic, study says

1 in 5 US adolescents is now prediabetic, study says

One in five adolescents, or those ages 12 to 18, and one in four young adults, or those ages 18 to 34, have prediabetes, the study found.

"These findings together with the observed increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in US adolescents and in diabetes-related complications in young adults highlight the need for ... prevention efforts tailored to the young segment of the USA population", the study team notes.

"Until recently, young children and teens nearly never got type 2 diabetes, which is why it used to be called adult-onset diabetes", says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where most of the new study's authors are affiliated. For the study, CDC researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005-16.

In a predictive model, male adolescents had almost double the prevalence of prediabetes compared with females - 22.5% (95% CI 19.5%-25.4%) versus 13.4% (95% CI 10.8%-16.5%).

Overall numbers are even higher for adults.

And those with prediabetes were also more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol than those who didn't, the authors found.

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Another non-surprise was that young people who had prediabetes tended to have several increased metabolic risk factors, as well, the investigators added.

The CDC said weight management and exercise programs can cut the risk of those with prediabetes developing type 2 diabetes by 58%. Among teens, the rate of type 2 diabetes has increased in the past ten years. Hence, it's important to monitor the prevalence of prediabetes early on, to assess the future risk in young people. This way, doctors and parents can work together to control sugar levels and modify the lifestyle practices of adolescents.

Type 1 diabetes is more commonly associated with children as it is an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas doesn't produce much insulin while with Type 2 diabetes, which has been linked to obesity, the body becomes less responsive to insulin, which the body needs to balance glucose in the bloodstream.

"The prevalence of prediabetes in adolescents and young adults reinforces the critical need for effective public health strategies that promote healthy eating habits, physical activity, and stress management", Dr Robert R. Redfield, CDC director, said.

For parents, the CDC recommends encouraging children to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day in order to reduce the risk of prediabetes. It is known that children and teens today are mostly sedentary, with the emergence of gadgets and the internet. In prediabetes, the blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) was created in 2010 to address rising cases of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in the United States. One of the chief features of the National DPP is a lifestyle change program available to adults that aims to infuse healthy eating and physical activity into the lives of people with prediabetes.

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