According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 84 million adults have pre-diabetes, or elevated blood sugar levels. Now, a recent study looks at how many children and young adults are impacted by pre-diabetes.
The study looked at 2,606 U.S. adolescents (ages 12-18) and 3,180 U.S. adults (ages 19-34).
“One out of five adolescents has a risk of having pre-diabetes, and one out of four between the ages of 19 and 34, have the diagnosis of pre-diabetes,” said Eva Love of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study.
Researchers also found young people who had pre-diabetes were also more likely to have elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity. Left unchecked, pre-diabetes can lead to type-two diabetes over time, which puts people at high risk for major health problems such as heart disease and stroke.
Love said learning your child has pre-diabetes can be worrisome, however, it doesn’t mean things have to stay that way. She said there are many factors that can impact a young person’s risk for developing diabetes – including genetics – but most times, risk can be lowered by adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
And while achieving good health cannot always be done overnight, Love said we can teach our children how to take the right steps to achieve it over time. She said, oftentimes, this means making changes that impact the whole family in a positive way.
Avoiding processed foods and adding more physical activity are great places to start. “These changes can be implemented across the whole family, because we know data shows, that if a parent engages in walking with their kid at the end of the day, this can create a more successful and sustainable outcome and truly reduce their diabetes risk – not just for the child, but maybe for even the parent as well,” Love said. She said it’s important for families to realize that diabetes is not just an adult problem.
“To think of diabetes as an adult condition only, is simply not true anymore,” Love said. “For a number of reasons, such as increased sedentary lifestyle, not eating properly, eating overly-processed foods, all of those things are contributing to the landscape of children’s health and that includes the development of type-two diabetes.”
Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA Pediatrics.
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