Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Rising Among U.S. Youth

Potential for Greater Risk of Heart Attacks, Strokes When This Generation Turns 30
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News

June 14, 2012 (Philadelphia) -- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are rising among U.S. kids and teens, according to the first national snapshot of diabetes rates among American youths.

The new report, presented this weekend in Philadelphia at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting, shows a 23% rise in rates of type 1 diabetes and a 21% rise in type 2 diabetes rates from 2001 to 2009.

Both trends are sounding alarm bells for researchers.

The rise in type 1 diabetes is "alarming," says researcher Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, MSPH, RD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Even so, it was not a complete surprise, as a similar increase has been reported among European youth, Mayer-Davis says.

Diabetes has serious long-term health risks. It makes heart disease, kidney problems, nerve damage, and many other conditions more likely.

"This is frightening," says Robert E. Ratner, MD, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.

"These are harbingers of adult health problems," he tells WebMD. If the trend is not reversed, there could be an epidemic of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure when this generation is age 25-35, Ratner says.

Why the Rise?

It's not clear why type 1 diabetes is becoming more common. One theory holds that today's infants are exposed to fewer viruses and bacteria that help the immune system mature, says researcher Dana Dabelea, MD, PhD, of the University of Colorado in Denver.

Some studies also suggest a possible link between very early exposure to cow's milk and certain foods to a higher risk of type 1 diabetes. "Studies are exploring whether later introduction of some foods to the infant's diet may be protective," Dabelea tells WebMD. "But we really don't know the cause."

The rise in type 2 diabetes, though dramatic, was less surprising. That's because obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and about 1 in 3 U.S. kids is overweight or obese. More than 90% of kids with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, the new study shows.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article