The number of Americans with diabetes skyrocketed over the last 15 years, as diabetes cases rose by 50 percent or more in 42 different states — and by 100 percent or more in 18 states — during that time period, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, another CDC report highlights the rapidly increasing number of U.S. children who have diabetes, warning that the country needs to prepare for their future care.
If the current increase in diabetes cases stays constant, the number of children with type 2 diabetes will likely increase by 49 percent by 2050. The number of cases of type 1 diabetes, which is less common and diagnosed earlier in life, could increase by 23 percent:
“These numbers are very important,” said study lead author Dr. Giuseppina Imperatore, of the CDC’s division of diabetes translation. “As a society, we will need to plan and prepare for the high-quality care of these children.” [...]
If the incidence rates of diabetes remain steady, the incidence of type 1 diabetes will rise from about 166,000 American children with the disease today to more than 203,000 in 2050. The number of children with type 2 diabetes will jump from about 20,000 today to 30,000 in 2050, according to the study.
If the rates of diabetes increase just slightly, however, the picture quickly becomes far more grim. The number of children with type 1 diabetes will almost triple to about 587,000, and the rate of type 2 diabetes will quadruple, with about 84,000 U.S. children affected, according to the study.
Imperatore said these estimates should be considered boundaries for where diabetes might go. She said it’s possible that the rates could decline, particularly if researchers make inroads into preventing type 1 diabetes.
Researchers do not know how to stop type 1 diabetes, Imperatore said, but it is clear that obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and exercise and losing weight can help prevent it. There’s more to understand about both types of diabetes, according to Dr. Robert Ratner, the American Diabetes Association’s chief scientific and medical officer, especially about the genetic risks. “The obesity epidemic isn’t due to sloth and gluttony. It’s an interaction between biology and the environment,” he said.