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CDC-funded study forecasts steep rise in youth diabetes

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2023 - 2:27pm
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Amid shortages of key diabetes treatments, a new CDC-funded study predicts a worrying rise in Type 1 and Type 2 cases in people under 20 over the next 40 years.

Dr. Debra Houry, acting principal deputy director of the CDC, called the report a “wakeup call” regarding the critical importance of addressing chronic diseases.

The modelling study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, projects a nearly 700% rise in Type 2 diabetes cases among young people in the U.S. by 2060.

Type 1 diabetes in that group could increase 65% in that period.

Several factors could explain the Type 2 surge, including rising childhood obesity prevalence. The CDC recently expanded its BMI-for-age growth charts, which are widely used to track childhood growth, to better handle the trend.

Diabetes occurrence among people of childbearing age, whose children face increased risk of diabetes, could also play a role.

The paper predicts Type 2 will most strongly affect people who are Black. It also predicts an undue burden on Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native populations.

Type 1 diabetes remains most common among white youth.

Just what’s driving the increase in Type 1 prevalence remains the subject of study. Candidates include: dioxin; heavy metals; mercury; potentially harmful plastic and lubricant components like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), phthalates and TCE (trichloroethylene); and conditions affecting the skin and gut microbiome.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes.

Roughly 90-95% of U.S. diabetes cases are Type 2, in which cells cannot respond normally to the hormone insulin, which helps bring vital, energy-packed blood sugar into cells.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas makes little to no insulin.

The term “juvenile diabetes” is inaccurate: Although it typically develops in children, teens and young adults, it can occur at any age.

Science Health + Medicine