Teen Diabetes Rate Soars

By Amir Khan on May 21, 2012 11:47 AM EDT

Diabetes
Diabetes hit record numbers in the past year, according to the International Diabetes Federation, (Photo: Reuters)

The number of teens with diabetes and pre-diabetes is soaring, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Between 2000 and 2008 the number rate of diabetes in teens and adolescents increased from 9 percent to 23 percent -- an increase researchers said is "concerning."

"To get ahead of this problem, we have to be incredibly aggressive and look at children and adolescents and say you have to make time for physical activity," Larry Deeb, pediatric endocrinologist and former president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association, who was not involved in the study, told USA Today.

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The majority of the diabetes cases were Type 2 diabetes, researchers said. Type 2 diabetes results in high blood sugar levels since the body cannot produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

"Type 2 diabetes is rampant in children now," Dr. Mark Hyman, author of "The Blood Sugar Solution: The Ultra Healthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease and Feeling Great Now," who was not involved in the study, told CBS. "We have two million kids who are morbidly obese. We need a different solution."

Researchers looked at over 30,000 teens and found that 50 percent of overweight and 60 percent of obese teens had diabetes.  However, almost 40 percent of healthy weight teens had diabetes as well.

"What this is saying, unfortunately, is that we're losing the battle early with many kids," Dr. Stephen Daniels, a University of Colorado School of Medicine expert who was not involved in the study, told CBS.

There was some good news, researchers said. Over the study period, there was no increase in cholesterol, high blood pressure or obesity, according to the study.

"All of us are looking for some sign or signal that we're making headway," Dr. William Mahle, an Emory University pediatric cardiologist, who was not involved with the study, told CBS. "So that was reassuring."

Researchers said parents need to encourage their kids to exercise and eat right in order to reduce the rate of diabetes. Small efforts such as cutting back on refined sugars and sodas could have far-reaching benefits, according to the study.

"I think parents have the opportunity to encourage their children to engage in healthy lifestyles," Ashleigh May, study author and CDC epidemiologist told The Washington Post . "On the broader community level, we can promote healthy environments that make making healthy choices easier for kids."

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