People Under 20 Developing Diabetes At Alarming Rates

by Sara Inés Calderón of

More young people than ever are being diagnosed with diabetes, meaning that the future of health care in this country is going to be even worse than we thought, and that these people have a high probability of dying young. Let me explain.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program:

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in school-aged children. According to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet, about 186,300 young people in the US under age 20 had diabetes in 2007. This represents 0.2% of all people in this age group.

Based on data from 2002-2003, the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study reported that approximately 15,000 US youth under 20 years of age are diagnosed annually with type 1 diabetes, while 3,700 are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is rare in children younger than 10 years of age, regardless of race or ethnicity. After 10 years of age, type 2 diabetes becomes increasingly common, especially in minority populations, representing 14.9% of newly diagnosed cases of diabetes in non-Hispanic whites, 46.1% in Hispanic youth, 57.8% in African Americans, 69.7 % in Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 86.2% in American Indian youth.

The gist of it is that people in the U.S. (especially minority youth) are developing diabetes at younger and younger ages. Combine this with a recent study that found that diabetics are twice as likely to die of heart disease and 25% more likely to die of cancer than people without diabetes. The Los Angeles Times reported:

Type 2 diabetics are also about three times as likely to die of kidney disease, 2.4 times as likely to die of pneumonia or other infections, 2.3 times as likely to die of liver disease, 70% more likely to die of falls, 64% more likely to die of mental disorders, 58% more likely to die of intentional self-harm and 27% more likely to die of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

So, children diagnosed as diabetics get it on both ends: Their childhood is destroyed and once they reach adulthood their health is even worse. The remedy? We all know the answer: healthy diet and exercise. The sad thing is, buried under all these numbers, is the sad fact that in this country the poorest people eat the most unhealthy food while the most wealthy eat the healthiest food. If we want to solve this problem, we have to do it as a collective, because blaming poor people for not being able to afford fresh produce isn’t going to do the job.

Follow Sara Inés Calderón on Twitter @SaraChicaD

[Photo By Boa-sorte&Careca]

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