The number of young Americans with type 2 diabetes is projected to skyrocket nearly 700% by 2060 if current trends continue unchecked, according to a “startling” new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health.
Meanwhile, a spike of up to 65% in young people with type 1 diabetes is likely, according to the new study published in the American Diabetes Association’s medical journal.
“This new research should serve as a wake-up call for all of us,” Dr. Debra Houry, acting principal deputy director of the CDC, said in a statement. “It’s vital that we focus our efforts to ensure all Americans, especially our young people, are the healthiest they can be.”
More than 37 million Americans — about 1 in 10 — already have incurable diabetes, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the nation. The average medical expenses for those living with it can tap out at $16,752 a year, according to the most recent ADA data.
Type 1 diabetes – in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin – is more common in people under the age 20 in the US. However, type 2 diabetes – when the body can’t process insulin the way it needs to – has “substantially increased” in this demographic over the past two decades, the research team reported.
In addition to the overall “surge” projections, analyzing the data by race and ethnicity predicted a “higher burden” of type 2 diabetes for “Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native youths.”
Researchers said the “alarming” growth rate could be sparked by multiple factors — ranging from gestational diabetes in women of childbearing age (as their babies are more likely to develop the disease) and the deeply ingrained prevalence of childhood obesity in US culture.
“This study’s startling projections of type 2 diabetes increases show why it is crucial to advance health equity and reduce the widespread disparities that already take a toll on people’s health,” said Christopher Holliday, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.
The most common diabetes health complications include heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage — and myriad other maladies associated with feet, oral, vision, hearing and mental health.
Meanwhile, the disease may intensify at a more rapid rate in young people than in adults, requiring earlier medical treatment, researchers noted.
“The COVID-19 pandemic underscored how critically important it is to address chronic diseases, like diabetes,” Dr. Houry added. “This study further highlights the importance of continuing efforts to prevent and manage chronic diseases, not only for our current population but also for generations to come.”