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Youth Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes was once considered an adult-onset disease, but it’s becoming increasingly common among American tweens and teens, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The trend, which corresponds to the growing rate of childhood obesity in recent years, is especially concerning because the earlier the disease begins, the more dangerous it can be for long-term health.

Researchers collected data from healthcare systems to identify diabetes cases among 4.9 million youths annually over a 10-year period. These are some of the numbers behind the trend:


Increase of severely obese American kids and teens since the 1970s, according to the CDC. In youths ages 2 to 19, 17 percent are now considered obese; an additional 16 percent are overweight.


Ranking of diabetes among the leading causes of death in the United States.


Americans who died from any type of diabetes in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available. This was a 5 percent increase of 2014.


Increase in people ages 10 to 19 with type 2 diabetes from 2002 to 2012. The number of teen girls diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was almost double that of boys. And Native American teens had by far the largest increases, followed by Asia-American, African-American, and Latino youth.

The overall adverse effect of diabetes on public health is actually increasing.”

  • Accompanying editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine

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