The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study , funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes increased by 4.8 percent between 2002 and 2012, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in April.
In the United States, 29.1 million people are living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and about 208,000 people younger than 20 years are living with diagnosed diabetes.
“That young people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a higher rate is concerning, because diabetes can lessen a person’s quality of life and shorten their life expectancy,” said Dr. Denise Cunill, a pediatrician and medical director at Cook County Health & Hospitals System’s Logan Square Health Center.
Though a reason for the increase in type 2 diabetes wasn’t analyzed in the SEARCH study, it is believed to be tied to the high rates of childhood obesity in the United States. The percentage of children with obesity in America has more than tripled since the 1970s, and today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity, according to the CDC .
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels, and it is often associated with being overweight or obese.