The number of young people in the U.S. with type 2 diabetes could surge by about 700% over the next four decades, with a greater burden falling on minority groups, a new model predicts.
If the recent acceleration of new diagnoses persists, then 220,000 people younger than 20 would have type 2 diabetes in 2060, compared with 28,000 in 2017, the latest year for which data is available, according to projections published this month in Diabetes Care. Even if the rate of new diagnoses stays constant, there would still be a 70% increase in type 2 cases by 2060.
Type 1 cases are also set to climb during that period, increasing 65% if the recent acceleration of diagnoses persists and 3% if the rate stays constant, the study predicts.
The figures point to the enormous public health burden facing the U.S. — not only from diabetes itself, but also from the rippling health problems and costs stemming from the condition. People with diabetes are at risk of complications such as kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.
“This new research should serve as a wake-up call for all of us,” Debra Houry, acting principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday in a statement. The CDC funds the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, on whose data the projections are based.
The CDC said possible reasons for the trend in type 2 cases are the growing prevalence of childhood obesity and maternal diabetes, both of which raise the risk of diabetes in young people.
Racial and ethnic minority groups are set to experience a greater burden of disease, with the highest prevalence likely to be among non-Hispanic Black youth, according to the projections.
That finding comes as recent studies show persistent racial disparities in the treatment of diabetes care – such as gaps in the ability to achieve good blood sugar control while taking insulin, and also in the use of insulin pumps.
The implications are grave since research has shown that young people with diabetes may suffer higher treatment failure and poorer outcomes than people who are diagnosed with diabetes as adults, said K. M. Venkat Narayan, executive director of the Emory Global Diabetes Research Center. Narayan is unaffiliated with the new findings, but had helped set up the SEARCH study years ago.
“Diabetes in youth, particularly type 2 diabetes in youth, is a far more serious disease than in older adults,” he said.
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