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39,000 U.S. Kids Have Type 2 Diabetes

More Than 2 Million More Have Impaired Fasting Glucose Levels, Hinting at Diabetes Risk

Checking Blood Glucose Levels

Duncan studied data from 1,496 participants who denied ever being told by a doctor or health professional that they had diabetes. Those participants had taken a blood sugar (glucose) test after fasting for at least eight hours.

Roughly 11% showed impaired fasting glucose levels, meaning that their body had problems handling sugar after fasting. Impaired fasting glucose levels are often a step on the path towards diabetes.

More than 15% of all adolescents with impaired fasting glucose levels were overweight, 14% were at risk of being overweight, and nearly 10% were of normal weight, the study shows.

Duncan notes certain limits in the data, like the small number of self-reported diabetes cases. Still, the findings have "important implications," Duncan writes, because impaired fasting glucose levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes raises heart risks in adults.

Because participants weren't tracked over time, it's not clear which, if any, of the youths eventually developed those problems.

Fixing the Problem

The journal also includes an editorial by Arlan Rosenbloom, MD, of Children's Medical Services Center in Gainesville, Fla.

Rosenbloom questions the diabetes diagnosis in several of the 18 patients who claimed to have diabetes. Rosenbloom bases his questions on the medicines those patients reported taking.

However, Rosenbloom calls Duncan's percentage estimates "reasonably consistent" with other data.

"A substantial number of pediatric patients, those with body mass index greater than 85th percentile for age and sex, are going to require the kind of monitoring for cardiovascular risk factors that has been considered standard care for older adults," Rosenbloom writes.

It's possible to lower the odds of developing type 2 diabetes and heart problems. Rosenbloom writes that the "public health time bomb reflected in the report by Duncan" will hopefully spur societal efforts to curb obesityobesity, since obesity often accompanies diabetes and other health problems.

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