Individuals can develop type 1 and type 2 diabetes at any age. New research shows that diabetes rates in young people may rise by 2060. According to the new modeling study published in Diabetes Care, the number of young people under age 20 with diabetes in the United States is likely to increase more rapidly in future decades .
Here’s more about this public health problem and the role that screening can play in addressing it.
How the numbers are rising
Although type 1 diabetes is more common in U.S. youth, type 2 diabetes has increased in young people over the last two decades. Researchers are saying the number of people under age 20 with type 2 diabetes in the US may increase nearly 675% by 2060 and there will be an increase of up to 65% in young people with type 1 diabetes if upward trends continue .
Even if the rate of new diabetes diagnoses among young people remains the same in the next decades, type 2 diabetes diagnoses could increase nearly 70% and type 1 diabetes diagnoses could increase 3% by 2060. This study’s startling projections of the rise in type 2 diabetes numbers show why it is crucial to increase diabetes prevention efforts and reduce the widespread disparities that impact population health.
Diabetes risk factors
The marked increase in expected type 2 diabetes rates can be attributed to several causes, including rising rates of childhood obesity and a family history of the disease.
Obesity can cause individuals to be more likely to develop diabetes. Being overweight (BMI of 25-29.9), or being affected by obesity (BMI of 30-39.9) or morbid obesity (BMI of 40 or greater), greatly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes . When people who are predisposed to diabetes have extra weight, the cells in the body become less sensitive to the insulin that is released from the pancreas.
People who have a family health history of diabetes are also more likely to have prediabetes and develop diabetes. Learning about one’s family history of diabetes can help individuals find out if they have prediabetes and if they are more likely to develop diabetes. However, it is also important to know that the development of diabetes is not only due to genetic factors or environmental ones, but a combination of both.
The consequences of rising diabetes rates
A national crisis has continued to develop across the U.S. as the rates of diabetes rise, exacerbated by environmental and lifestyle factors. The onset of diabetes at a younger age (defined here as up to age 40 years) often means they are exposed to the disease for longer and have an increased risk for serious complications, such as nerve damage, vision and hearing problems, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Diabetes may also worsen more quickly in young people than in adults, requiring earlier medical care. Furthermore, evidence is accumulating that young-onset type 2 diabetes has a more aggressive disease phenotype, leading to premature development of complications, with adverse effects on quality of life and unfavorable effects on long-term outcomes, resulting in increased demand on our healthcare systems, rising healthcare costs, and poorer public health outcomes .
How LetsGetChecked can help
This new research highlights the need to step up public health and clinical intervention efforts that are focused on preventive measures, especially for young adults. Screening people for diabetes at a younger age could enable earlier diagnoses and timely treatment.
LetsGetChecked’s at-home healthcare solutions enable people to access the health insights they need to take control of their health. We can meet your people where they are so they can get the timely and quality healthcare they deserve.