More Teens Have Diabetes Than Previously Reported, JAMA Study Finds

Minority teens were more likely to have undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes, the researchers report.

Researchers reporting in JAMA say more teenagers have diabetes than previously known, and many don’t know they have the disease.

The research letter published July 19, 2016, examines data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2005 to 2014. Youth age 12 to 19 were randomly selected to have blood glucose testing after fasting. Of the 2606 adolescents included, 62 had diabetes and 512 had prediabetes. Among those with the disease, 20 had not been diagnosed.

The prevalence of diabetes was 0.8%, of which 29% was undiagnosed, and the prevalence of prediabetes was 18%. Prediabetes was more common among the boys (22%) than the girls (13%). The previous estimate of diabetes prevalence among teenagers was 0.34%. The share of teens with diabetes and prediabetes did not change during the study period.

Black and Hispanic teenagers were more likely than white youth to have prediabetes, and minority teens with diabetes were also more likely to be undiagnosed. Among black teens with diabetes, 50% do not know they have it, and 21% have prediabetes. Among Hispanic teens, 40% who have diabetes are unaware, and 23% have prediabetes.

“To our knowledge, these are the first estimates of diabetes in a nationally representative sample of US adolescents using all 3 American Diabetes Association recommended biomarkers,” the authors wrote. “These findings may have important public health implications because diabetes in youth is associated with early onset of risk factors and complications.”

An estimated 86 million Americans have prediabetes, and 1 in 10 are unaware, according to estimates from CDC. About 29 million people have diabetes, and most have type 2 disease. About 9% of the population has diabetes, but the percentages in each state vary widely. Minority populations have more diabetes and prediabetes in the adult population, CDC reports.

Reference

Menke A, Casagrande S, Cowie CC. Prevalence of diabetes in adolescents age 12 to 19 years in the United States, 2005-2014. JAMA. 2016; 316(3):344.