The number of young people under the age of 20 who have diabetes in the United States is expected to increase significantly in the coming years and decades, according to a new modeling study published today in Diabetes Care.
The research, led by Thaddäus Tönnies, employed a mathematical model and data from the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, which ran from 2002 to 2017, to predict the future occurrence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among individuals under the age of 20.
The study found that in 2060, five hundred and twenty-six thousand young people in the U.S. may have diabetes (including both type 1 and type 2 diabetes). This is more than double the number of young people who had diabetes in 2017, which was about two hundred and thirteen thousand.
The researchers also discovered that the number of youth with diabetes in the U.S. would likely increase substantially in future decades. This expected upward trend may lead to as many as 220,000 young people having type 2 diabetes in 2060—a nearly 700% increase. In addition, the number of young people with type 1 diabetes could increase by as much as 65% in the next 40 years.
According to the researchers, even if the rate of new diabetes diagnoses among young people remains the same over the decades, type 2 diabetes diagnoses could increase by nearly 70%, and type 1 diabetes diagnoses could increase by 3% by 2060.
The study suggests that there could be many reasons why more young people are getting type 2 diabetes. One possible reason is that more children are overweight. Another reason is that more parents are getting diabetes, which increases the risk of their children getting diabetes too.
“Increases in diabetes—especially among young people—are always worrisome, but these numbers are alarming,” said Christopher Holliday, Ph.D., MPH, MA, FACHE, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “This study’s startling projections of type 2 diabetes increases show why it is crucial to advance health equity and reduce the widespread disparities that already take a toll on people’s health.”