By Reuters Staff
(Reuters Health) - About one in five teens and one in four young adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, a new study suggests.
Researchers examined data on 5,786 people ages 12 to 34 who hadn't been diagnosed with diabetes. Overall, 18% of 12- to 18-year-olds had impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, or increased HbA1c, as did 24% of the adults aged 19 to 34.
"Prediabetes is highly prevalent in U.S. adolescents and young adults, especially in male individuals and in people with obesity," lead study author Linda Andes of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and colleagues write in JAMA Pediatrics, online December 2.
Teens and young adults with prediabetes are at increased risk not only for developing type 2 diabetes but also cardiovascular problems, the study team writes.
"These findings together with the observed increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in U.S. adolescents and in diabetes-related complications in young adults highlight the need for . . . prevention efforts tailored to the young segment of the U.S. population," the study team notes.
For the study, researchers defined prediabetes as fasting plasma glucose of 100mg/dL to <126mg/dL, 2-hour plasma glucose of 140mg/dL to <200mg/dL, or HbA1c between 5.7% and 6.4%.
Overall, 5.3% of teens and 8% of young adults in the study fell into these prediabetic ranges on one or more measures.
Both teens and young adults in the study who appeared to have prediabetes had higher cholesterol and blood pressure and more fat stored around their midsections than individuals without prediabetes.
Among teens in the study, about 23% of males had prediabetes, compared with 13% of females. Differences persisted among young adults: 29% of males and 19% of females had prediabetes.
Results also differed by race or ethnicity: 16% of white teens had prediabetes, compared with more than 22% of black and Hispanic adolescents. This difference also carried through to early adulthood: about 21% of non-Hispanic white young adults had prediabetes compared with 27% of black individuals and 29% of Hispanic young adults.
People with obesity were also most likely to have prediabetes: 26% of teens and 37% of young adults with obesity had this condition.
The study wasn't designed to prove whether or how markers of prediabetes might directly lead to diabetes in teens or young adults.
One limitation of the study is that researchers only had data to assess prediabetes at a single point in time, the study authors note.
JAMA Pediatrics 2019.