Diabetes is on the rise in the U.S.: a new study in the journal 'Pediatrics' states that nearly one quarter of U.S. teens are now diabetic or prediabetic. The study, which was carried out by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, looked at the risk of cardiovascular disease in teens, and found that while the last decade showed little change in other factors like the number of overweight and obese teens (34 percent of the population), diabetes had increased significantly. In total, 23 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 have diabetes or prediabetes in the States, up from just nine percent a decade earlier.
The report does not suggest the reasons for the spike in diabetes and prediabetes. Lead researcher Ashleigh May said "the question of why that is will require more research". But it does recommend wide-scale diabetes screenings for children 10 years and older who are overweight or obese or have other risk factors. May also suggested that parents have a role to play: "I think parents have the opportunity to encourage their children to engage in healthy lifestyles". Increased physical activity, healthy eating and weight loss have all been shown to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.
Since the study wasn't focused solely on diabetes - it looked at teen health more generally - it doesn't break down how many teens are suffering from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and how many are facing prediabetes, which is a condition involving higher-than-normal blood sugar levels that can lead to a heightened risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 90 and 95 percent of all cases in the general population, and it is the type that is generally associated with being overweight and living an inactive lifestyle.
Although no specific figures are available on the incidence of teen diabetes in Canada, The Canadian Diabetes Association states that rates of Type 2 diabetes are expected to rise by as much as 50 percent in the next 15 years in this country. At the moment, 9 million Canadians live with the condition, and diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year.
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