Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

CDC Projects Huge Diabetes Jump in Kids, Teens

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 21, 2012 -- The number of children and teens with type 1 and type 2 diabetes is expected to spike dramatically in the next 40 years, creating what one expert calls a potential catastrophe for the nation’s health care system.

Rates of type 2 diabetes could increase four times over the next 40 years, and rates of type 1 diabetes may triple, the new CDC report says. The CDC’s numbers assume that the rate of diabetes will increase over time.

Even if the rates stay as they are now, the number of children and teens with type 2 diabetes is projected to climb by almost 50% over the same period, and the number with type 1 diabetes will rise by 23%.

Right now, about 215,000, or 0.26%, of this age group under 20 years old have diabetes. The spike in both type 1 and 2 will be particularly high among minorities.

“Diabetes is clearly increasing at an unacceptable rate, and while we are doing a whole lot better in terms of treating it, we simply can’t keep up,” says American Diabetes Association Chief Scientific and Medical Officer Robert E. Ratner, MD. “The simple fact is we are losing the battle by not preventing this disease.”

Just two decades ago, type 2 diabetes was almost never seen in children, but it has become more common with higher rates of childhood obesity, Ratner says.

Public health efforts that address the childhood obesity epidemic could have a profound impact on the future of type 2 diabetes, Ratner noted in an editorial published with the CDC report in the December issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

Type 1 Rates Rising Among Minorities

Type 1 diabetes is not linked to obesity and little is known about how to prevent it.

It is also not clear why rates are rising, says Sharon Saydah, PhD, of the CDC.

The disease has historically been diagnosed mostly among whites in the U.S., but this is changing, Saydah says.

Projections suggest that by 2050, about 45% of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes will be from minority populations.

The CDC report noted it will be important that these children have access to care.

Saydah says the cost of delivering health care to an increasing number of children and teens with diabetes could very well overwhelm the health care system if the less conservative projections become reality.

Medical expenditures among children and teens with diabetes are typically at least six times higher than for children and teens without the disease.

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!


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.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner