Study Finds That Nearly 30% Of Teens Have "Prediabetes"

The numbers have made a drastic jump in recent years.

By: Amanda Mushro
Cropped shot of young woman using blood test kit at home while doing health check and consultation online. Home finger-prick blood test.


Cropped shot of young woman using blood test kit at home while doing health check and consultation online. Home finger-prick blood test.

Photo by: Oscar Wong

Oscar Wong

A new study has parents and doctors very concerned about our teens' health. According to a study that appeared in JAMA Pediatrics Journal, nearly 30% of teens are considered prediabetic. With rates of childhood obesity rising and many children’s levels of activity still on a decline because of Covid, doctors say now is the time to up screenings and make major changes in our teens' lives.

For the study, researchers looked at data collected over ten cycles for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This survey included 6,600 kids who were between the ages of 12 and 19 years old, and followed these teens from 1999 to 2018.

Here’s what really startled doctors — in 1999, the rate for kids who were considered prediabetic was 11.6%. However, that number jumped to 28.2% ten years later.

"These numbers are striking, and it's pretty clear that, if we don't do something to bring down these numbers, we are going to see a significant increase in diabetes in the United States," study co-author Junxiu Liu tells UPI.

The American Diabetes Association estimates about 35 million people in the United States have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Since this data was collected before the pandemic, doctors are even more concerned about how the numbers may be even greater. Since many teens are more sedentary and have been for two years, researchers say now is the time to have your teen screened and make lifestyle changes.

"This is an important message for parents and caregivers, as well as public health leaders, that we need to pay more attention to diet and exercise in young people," Liu said.

If you’re a parent wondering what you can do for your teen, here’s what the American Diabetes Association recommends:

  • Make sure your child is getting more physical activity.
  • Cut down on screen time
  • Encourage a healthier diet for the whole family
  • Get teens to bed earlier

Doctors also say this needs to be a family affair and to help our kids get healthier, we need to do the work too. In the evening, take the entire family out for a walk or a bike ride. Turn off all of your screens and get outside for fresh air and family time. Make meals together and try new recipes for fruits and veggies. Get the whole family to bed earlier for a better night's sleep. It’s also important to take your kids to see their pediatrician annually to understand their risks and to know if your teen falls into the prediabetic category.


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