|New study finds dramatic rise in diabetes among American teens|
|June 25, 2012|
Diabetes rates rose by nearly 25 percent among American teens in the last decade, according to new data presented by UNC researchers at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting held earlier this month in Philadelphia.
Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, MSPH, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition in UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, served as lead researcher on the nine-year SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study, which provided a new - and startling - snapshot of adolescent health in America.
The research, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, provides some of the first documentation to show that Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in youth and that the disease is increasing in minority and Caucasian populations.
"Youth with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes will enter adulthood with a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease and other long-term, very costly complications of diabetes including eye disease and kidney disease," said Mayer-Davis, who is also a professor of medicine in the UNC School of Medicine.
The SEARCH study also revealed that Type 2 diabetes prevalence, which had been considered the "adult onset" form of the disease, increased by 21 percent between 2001 and 2009, with significant increases both in Caucasian and Hispanic youth. Prevalence among African-American teens and American Indian youth has leveled off, as have the rates among Asian- American teens.
While the research shows a disturbing trend, Mayer-Davis said the real public health impact of these numbers may not be felt for decades, as this teen population ages and becomes plagued with chronic diseases.
"Early pilot data from the SEARCH study shows that chronic complications of diabetes can emerge during adolescence and early adulthood," said Mayer-Davis. "Early indicators of complications reflect diabetic eye disease, kidney disease, vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy."
Mayer-Davis said her research also showed that diabetic teens were rarely meeting health recommendations for exercise, diet and nutritional supplementation. Half of teens with diabetes are deficient in vitamin D, and one third of diabetic teens watch more than two hours of television per weekday. Finally, one third of diabetic teens in the survey smoke tobacco.
"Diabetes is extremely challenging to manage day after day, especially for adolescents who are growing and developing rapidly," said Mayer-Davis. "New studies are underway to identify means of providing positive support for daily medical management, healthy food choices and opportunities for physical activity."
|Last updated June 25, 2012|