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.
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.
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).
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).
Kids with impaired fasting glucose were also more likely to have other heart risks.
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.
Another study in Pediatrics raises related concerns.
Those traits include abdominal obesity measured by elevated waist circumference, high blood pressure, impaired fasting glucose, poor cholesterol levels, and high levels of blood fats called triglycerides. Metabolic syndrome means having three or more of those problems.
Approximately 1,200 black and white girls were followed for a decade, starting at age 9 or 10 years.
At first, only one girl of each race met the clinical criteria for metabolic syndrome. Ten years later, 20 black girls (3.5%) and 12 white girls (2.3%) had it.
The researchers included John Morrison, PhD. He works in the cardiology division of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Nip Diabetes in the Bud
Adults with prediabetes can cut their diabetes risk by making lifestyle changes, such as boosting physical activity and upgrading their eating habits.
Is that also true for kids and teens? It's likely but not yet proven, write the CDC and NIH researchers.
Prediabetes doesn't always show symptoms without a lab test. Consult a doctor to find, fix, or prevent prediabetes and metabolic syndrome in people of any age.