The rising prevalence in childhood obesity increases the risk of teenagers and adolescents developing conditions linked to excess weight like type 2 diabetes, a condition long considered to be a disease for older people. A recent study in JAMA Pediatrics indicates that many adolescents and young adults have prediabetes, the stepping stone to type 2 diabetes.
Researchers used the 2005-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to look at a population-based sample of teenagers and young adults who did not have diabetes; were not pregnant; and had measured fasting plasma glucose, 2-hour plasma glucose after a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test, and HbA1c levels. The sample included a total of 5786 adolescents (n = 2606) and young adults (n = 3180).
In the studied population:
- Prevalence of prediabetes among the teenagers was 18.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 16.0%-20.1%) and 24.0% (95% CI, 22.0%-26.1%) among young adults.
- Largest proportion of prediabetes was found with impaired fasting glucose, with a prevalence of 11.1% (95% CI, 9.5%-13.0%) in teenagers and 15.8% (95% CI, 14.0%-17.9%) in young adults.
- Prediabetes prevalence was much higher in participants who were obese versus normal weight. (25.7% [95% CI, 20.0%-32.4%] vs 16.4% [95% CI, 14.3%-18.7%] in adolescents and 36.9% [95% CI, 32.9%-41.1%] vs 16.6% [95% CI, 14.2%-19.4%] in young adults).
When compared to people who had normal glucose tolerance, young adults and teenagers with prediabetes had significantly higher systolic blood pressure, central adiposity, lower insulin sensitivity, and higher non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (P < .05 for all).
The researchers, who were affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said their findings highlight the need to create prevention efforts targeted to the younger segment of the population.