Pre-diabetes a Concern Among Teens in the U.S.
The good news is that fewer than 1% of teens in the U.S. have diabetes. The bad news is that based on current NHANES (National health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data, nearly 18 percent of adolescents have pre-diabetes.
Between 2005 – 2014, 17.7 percent of teens were found to have pre-diabetes. Researchers in this study tested 2,606 teens, ages of twelve to nineteen, and found that 28.5 percent (adjusted score) were undiagnosed with the precursor to diabetes, shifting the statistics noted in 2014 closer to a current 18 percent prevalence of pre-diabetes in the U.S. teen population.
A higher prevalence of pre-diabetes was found in male teens, compared to female teens. The percentage of undiagnosed teens was higher among non-Hispanic black participants, compared to non-Hispanic white participants.
Three different biomarkers were used to assess the teens:
• HbA1c, which is a blood test that averages three months’ worth of blood sugar levels. A value of 5.7 to 6.4mg/dL is used by most experts as an indicator of pre-diabetes.
• Fasting plasma glucose, which is a blood test performed after a period of fasting.
• Two-hour plasma glucose, also called a two-hour glucose tolerance test (GTT) which is a blood level taken two hours after the subject consumes a very sweet beverage with a pre-measured amount of glucose.
Considering the large number of teens that were unaware of their pre-diabetes (or diabetes) status, this study shows the importance and value of yearly screening tests for the conditions. Limitations to the study included just one HbA1c measurement (the American Diabetes Association recommends that two levels be taken for a diagnosis) and also the self-reporting of the teens as to whether or not they had prior knowledge about a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis.
It should be noted that the researchers did not differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in their assessment of findings.
Pre-diabetes is associated with a strong likelihood that an individual will progress to diabetes. Diabetes is associated with a strong link to early heart disease and a long term risk of kidney disease and kidney failure.
Some tips to help lower the risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes include:
• Watch your weight and BMI and lose excess weight with a sensible diet and exercise program
• Eat mostly whole foods and follow diets that have been identified as “healthy, balanced diets” which include the Mediterranean and DASH diets.
• Limit processed foods and monitor sugar consumption
• Eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains
• Limit red meat consumption
• Limit sugary beverages and drink mostly water.
• Exercise daily
Quick reminder: Today is National Women’s Health & Fitness Day