Diabetes rising in teen population, according to study

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A new study published in the May 21 issue of the journal Pediatrics suggests that the percentage of U.S. teens with diabetes is rising.

The study found that the percentage of adolescents (12 to 19) with diabetes or prediabetes increased from 9 percent to 23 percent between 1999 and 2008.

Prediabetes, like diabetes, is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but it involves blood sugar levels that higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.

Among the other findings of the study was the fact that 50 percent of overweight teens and 60 percent of obese teens possessed at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. These risk factors included diabetes, high cholesterol levels, borderline high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure (hypertension).

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Researchers from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said that the findings indicate “U.S. adolescents carry a substantial burden of [cardiovascular disease] risk factors, especially those youth who are overweight or obese.”

Participants in the study included 3,383 adolescents who were interviewed and given a physical exam as part of a government survey that took place between 1999 and 2008. Approximately one-third of the particpants were overweight or obese.

Of the participants, 22 percent had borderline-high or high cholesterol levels and six percent had low levels of “good” cholesterol. Hypertension or pre-hypertension was detected in 14 percent of the participants and 15 percent had diabetes or prediabetes during the study period.

Over the period of the study, the percentage of participants who were obese or overweight did not show significant change, but the percentage of people with prediabetes or diabetes increased by 14 percent.

Researchers reported that the findings indicate “a large proportion of teens, regardless of their weight, would benefit from interventions that promote healthy lifestyles, including physical activity and eating a healthy diet.”

The researchers did caution that the single blood test used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes in the test may not be reliable for children.

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