Prediabetes on the Rise Amongst American Adolescents

A new study shows that the rate of prediabetes in America’s youth has more than doubled over the past two decades. The alarming increase spans across all populations, regardless of race, income, and education.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, included children from 12 to 19 years old, and looked at data in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2018. Over the 20-year period, the rate of prediabetes in adolescents increased from 11.6% to 28.2%, rising fairly steadily in that time frame.

The study’s lead author, Junxiu Liu, assistant professor of population health science and policy at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, emphasized the importance of taking action now. “If we do not intervene, the children who have prediabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetes and also have a higher risk of all cardiovascular diseases.”

While the study didn’t identify a cause for the increase, CDC data shows that many children fail to meet recommended physical activity and healthy eating guidelines. As a result, along with rising rates of prediabetes, more than 1 in 5 adolescents aged 12 to 19 have obesity, and 2 in 5 students suffer from some chronic health condition. 

Establishing a solid foundation for healthy behaviors during childhood and adolescence can help reverse this trend, which may and reduce the risk of future development of chronic disease. The Healthy Monday Family Fitness Package is a 7-week series designed to help families find ways to get active together, whether through nature walks, fitness challenges, stretching sessions, or family yoga. There’s also the Meatless Monday Challenge, a fun 12-week series designed to motivate children and adolescents to eat more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods. Click here for more information about how you can integrate a Healthy Monday program into your household, school, or community.