Studies Suggest Increase in Adult Type of Diabetes Among Children and Teens

New York, NY
March 15, 2000

Diabetes, the leading cause of kidney failure in the United States, is on the rise among young Americans, says the National Kidney Foundation. Experts are concerned that this increase may mean earlier cases of kidney failure and other serious diabetes-related complications, including heart attacks and strokes. Studies in the U.S., Canada and Japan suggest an increase among children and teenagers in new cases of type 2 diabetes, the type of diabetes that usually affects adults over 45. Type 2 diabetes was relatively rare in these age groups until the last few years.

Virtually all the studies emphasize that obesity in children and teens seems to play a major role in the early development of the disease. In addition, most of the youngsters in the study who developed the disease were from ethnic minorities, suggesting that these groups may have increased susceptibility due to genetic and/or socioeconomic factors.

These findings underscore the need to stress preventive measures such as healthy eating habits and exercise in young people, especially minorities. In addition, overweight youngsters should receive regular medical checkups so that cases of diabetes can be diagnosed and treated early.

More than 16 million Americans have diabetes, a group of serious diseases characterized by high blood sugar levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin. Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, typically occurs in adults who are over 45 and overweight. Far less common is type 1 diabetes, which is usually an autoimmune disorder that starts in children or young adults and is not related to weight. For more information about diabetes and kidney disease, call the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.