Rising Diabetes Rates in American Children and Teens

The prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes among American youth increased significantly during the past decade, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study analyzed data on diabetes prevalence from 2001 to 2009 among children and adolescents in four geographic areas of the United States, including American Indian reservations in two states, and from a large California healthcare system. Trends in the prevalence of physician-diagnosed type 1 diabetes from age 0 to 19 years and type 2 diabetes from age 10 through 19 years were analyzed.

The prevalence of type 1 diabetes (per 1000) increased from 1.48 in 2001 to 1.93 in 2009. Type 1 diabetes was most frequent in white children and adolescents and least frequent in American Indian youth: 2.55 versus 0.35 per 1000, respectively. Prevalence increased in nearly all age, sex, and racial and ethnic groups. On adjusted analysis, the increase in type 1 diabetes prevalence was 21.9 percent.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes also increased: from 0.34 to 0.46 per 1000. By racial and ethnic groups, the rates per 1000 were 1.20 for American Indian, 1.06 for black, 0.79 for Hispanic, and 0.17 for white youth. The adjusted increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes was 30.5 percent.

The study supplies needed data on trends in diabetes rates among children and adolescents in the United States. The results suggest that the prevalence of type 1 diabetes increased by about 20 percent and of type 2 diabetes by 30 percent during the previous decade, with significant variations by race and ethnicity. Further study will be needed to determine the cause of the rising diabetes rates in young Americans [Dabelea D, et al. Prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents from 2001 to 2009. JAMA 2014; 311:1778–1786].