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2 Million U.S. Youths Have Prediabetes

Condition Can Be Reversed; Left Unchecked, May Lead to Diabetes, Heart Disease
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 7, 2005 -- An estimated 2 million American youths have prediabetes, the CDC and NIH report.

In prediabetes, the body doesn't handle blood sugar as well as it should, but not as poorly as in diabetes.

Prediabetes is often a step on the path to type 2 diabetes. It also raises the risk of heart disease.

But, prediabetes may not be a one-way ticket to those problems. There could still be time to turn things around. But it takes sustained effort, and the clock is running.

Kids aren't the only ones with prediabetes. Many grown-ups have it, too.

An estimated 41 million Americans have prediabetes, nearly 21 million have diabetes, and many don't know they have those problems, the CDC reported in October.

National Numbers

The new figures are based on a national survey of 471 boys and 444 girls aged 12-19 years.

The kids represented their peers nationwide. About 16% were overweight, based on their body mass index (BMI).

The kids took a blood sugar test after fasting for at least eight hours. The test checked for impaired fasting glucose -- problems handling blood sugar after fasting.

Key Findings

Seven percent of all participants had impaired fasting glucose. That translates to about 2 million adolescents nationwide, the researchers write.

Impaired fasting glucose was more common among boys than girls. It was seen in one in 10 boys and one out of 25 girls.

Being overweight -- especially around the waist -- raised the odds. Impaired fasting glucose was seen in one in 16 overweight adolescents and one in four with large waists.

Mexican-American adolescents were more likely than whites or blacks to have impaired fasting glucose (13% of Mexican-Americans, 7% of whites, and 4% of blacks).

Further Hazards

Kids with impaired fasting glucose were also more likely to have other heart risks.

They tended to have higher levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol and lower levels of HDL "good" cholesterol.

They also were more likely to have higher systolic blood pressure. That's the first number in a blood pressure reading.

The survey was done in 1999-2000. More recent trends aren't covered. The researchers included the CDC's Desmond Williams, MD. The study appears in Pediatrics.

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