Rates of Prediabetes in American Kids Soaring

Prediabetes is common in adults and often undiagnosed.

It is a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet at the level needed to be considered diabetes. A new study finds that American kids are developing prediabetes at more than double the rate that they were 20 years ago.

The study looked at children between the ages of 12 and 19 using CDC survey data that spanned from 1999 to 2018.

The findings:

  • Over the nearly 20 years, from 1999 to 2018, rates of prediabetes in adolescents went from 11.6% to 28.2%.
  • It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 children in the studied group had prediabetes.
  • The increase was observed among all subpopulations of US kids regardless of socioeconomic status.
  • The study did not look at the cause of this rise in prediabetes rates.

The takeaway: Kids who have prediabetes are at greater risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular problems as they age into adulthood. Currently, there are no recommendations to screen for prediabetes in children during routine care. And though the reasons for this rise haven’t been scientifically studied yet, common sense points us towards the answer; the more processed, sugary foods our kids consume combined with declining rates of physical activity are likely putting them at greater risk. So how can we help? Modeling a healthy lifestyle for our kids is a great start. Eating a whole foods-based diet should be a family affair. Get the kids (and yourself) away from screens more often and outside for some movement. And don’t forget the most important factor for health when it comes to keeping blood sugar stable; getting a good night’s sleep. Prevention is truly the best medicine.

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