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Diabetes Epidemic — Including Type 1 — Getting Worse

By Madeline Holler |

diabetes, health epidemic

Rates of both types of diabetes are beginning to skyrocket.

We have kind of grown used to the idea that the kind of diabetes connected to obesity, Type 2, has become an epidemic, even in children – really young children.

But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes for Health found an enormous jump in the number of Type 1 diabetes cases among American kids in the eight years observed in the analysis. Researchers are trying to explain why Type 1 cases are on the rise.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is considered a genetic disease. It causes the body to lose the ability to produce insulin, which is needed to regulate blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is when a body becomes insulin resistant. This is the diabetes often related to obesity.

Both types of diabetes diagnoses are increasing, but it’s the increase in Type 1 that has stumped researchers, though one hypothesis also goes back to rapid weight-gain at younger and younger ages, which some think may trigger the disease.

Another hypothesis blames our overly clean environments, which are also thought to be causing an increase in the number of and severity of allergies among kids.

Whatever is causing it, diabetes will continue to be a prevalent healthcare concern in our and our children’s lifetimes. Some studies have concluded that by 2050, one-third of all Americans will have one form of the insulin-related disease.

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About Madeline Holler

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Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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2 thoughts on “Diabetes Epidemic — Including Type 1 — Getting Worse

  1. RE says:

    I’d Like to see more about the overly clean environment being connected to the increase in allergies. Any sources??

    My son is 10 months and shows signs of multiple food allergies.

  2. mybustedpancreas says:

    It is very probable that a lot of this “epidemic” is really due to changing diagnostic procedures that are better-capturing what has always been there.

    With regard to type 1 diabetes – 20 years ago, and even sometimes today, anyone who develops diabetes over the age of about 20 was/is categorized as having type 2 diabetes. This is especially true of people who develop T1 in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. However, we now have more sophisticated testing to differentiate when someone is T1 vs T2. If an endocrinologist orders the right tests, the individual gets the right diagnosis. T1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease; despite it’s old name of “juvenile diabetes” (which is no longer used anymore), it can actually develop at ANY age.

    With regard to type 2 diabetes – the ADA periodically changes the “threshold” at which someone is considered a T2 diabetic. Not long ago, the ADA made the diagnostic standards more stringent, thus capturing a wider range of people. So, there some folks who went to bed fine, and woke up the next morning a type 2 diabetic, simply because the diagnostic standards had changed. There is much debate about some folks being classified as having T2 diabetes as, in some cases, these individuals are simply displaying a natural aging process wherein the pancreas begins to lose its ability to produce insulin and the body becomes more resistant to the insulin produced.

    I think the “diabetes epidemic” hype is way overblown. When it comes to T2 diabetes, this means that drug companies are profiting significantly off a condition that, in some cases, is really not a condition at all. With regard to T1 diabetes, we are simply just learning more about what has been there all along. Also, T1 in children is increasing simply because children are surviving infancy and the toddler years because they aren’t dying from terrible childhood diseases or accidents. They are living long enough into childhood to be at risk for T1D.

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