Prediabetes and Diabetes on the March in U.S. Adolescents

The June, 2012, issue of Pediatrics has an article stating that the incidence of diabetes and prediabetes in U.S. adolescents increased from 9% in 1999 to 23% in 2008.  The finding is based on the NHANES survey of 12 to 19-year-olds, which included a single fasting blood sugar determination.

The investigators offered no solution to the problem.  I’m no pediatrician, but my educated guess is that the following measures would help prevent adolescent type 2 diabetes and prediabetes:

  • more exercise
  • eat less refined starches and sugar
  • maintain body weight in the healthy range
I’m sure many of the adolescent type 2 diabetics and prediabetics are overweight or obese.  A 2010 study out of Colorado found a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet safe and effective for adolescents.  Fortunately, the decades-long ascent of the adolescent obesity rate in the U.S. seems to have peaked for now.
The paleo diet would restrict consumption of concentrated sugars and refined starches, but it’s hard to get adolescents to skip those items.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I scanned the article quickly and don’t remember if the researchers broke down the diabetes cases by type 1 and type 2.  I’d be shocked if type 1 diabetes rose this much over the last decade.

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