According to a new study, as many as 2 million children in the U.S. aged 12 to 19 have a prediabetic condition or prediabetes, that is often linked to obesity and physical inactivity.
Prediabetes is defined as having a blood glucose level higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
The condition indicates an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
In the study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health examined the prevalence of a prediabetic condition called impaired fasting glucose (IFG) using data from the 1999–2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
In the study 915 adolescents were monitored.
With IFG the fasting blood sugar level is 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) after an overnight fast, and although that level is higher than normal it is not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
Adolescents with IFG have signs of insulin resistance and worsened cardiovascular disease risk factors among other things.
People have prediabetes when they have impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), a condition in which the blood sugar level is 140 to 199 mg/dL after a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test.
Some pre-diabetic people have both IFG and IGT, but the current study did not consider IGT.
In the study it was found 1 in 10 boys and 1 in 25 girls had impaired fasting glucose compared with one in six among the overweight teens.
The study also found IFG in 13 percent among Mexican Americans, 4.2 percent among non-Hispanic black individuals and 7 percent among non-Hispanic white individuals.
Those affected with IFG had significantly higher levels of hemoglobin A1c, fasting insulin, total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or bad cholesterol, triglycerides of blood fat, and systolic blood pressure and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol than those without IFG.
This means that this group would have a higher likelihood of having heart problems in their adulthood.
According to the CDC, in 2000, 35 million U.S. adults aged 40–74 had IFG, 16 million had IGT, and 41 million had pre-diabetes.
Diabetes, mostly type 2, which impairs the body’s capability of properly using insulin, affects about 20 million Americans.
177,000 Americans younger than 20 had diabetes, mostly type 1 or juvenile onset diabetes in which little insulin is produced in the body.
On a more comforting note, the CDC says that the progression to diabetes among those with prediabetes is not inevitable, and people with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay diabetes and even return their blood glucose levels to normal if they lose weight and increase their physical activity.
The study is published in the November issue of Pediatrics.