Monday, May 21, 2012

The Diabetes Generation

An entire generation of America's children now face the prospect and dire consequences of a lifetime as diabetics, according to a report on today's NPR Morning Edition. In just 9 years, from 1999 to 2008, the incidence of "pre-diabetes" among Americans aged 12 to 19 has more than doubled (from 9% to 23%).

"That's a shockingly high figure that has dire implications to the health of this entire generation of children. This report really sounds the alarm," says David S. Ludwig, a childhood obesity expert at Children's Hospital in Boston. "It's one thing for an overweight or obese 55-year-old gaining an extra few pounds a year to develop diabetes at age 65 and then have a heart attack at age 70. It's a very different thing if the clock starts ticking at age 10. Children have so many more years to suffer from the consequences from these serious medical problems related to obesity. We're looking at the prospect of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure becoming common complications of young adulthood."

As we as a society struggle to find a way to provide affordable healthcare, "lifestyle diseases" such as diabetes will have to be addressed. To fight this trend, more and more children will face a lifetime of struggling to keep their blood sugar under control. "It requires a long period of medication use, strict diet, exercise and surveillance, all of which is quite expensive," says Vivian Fonseca at the American Diabetes Association. And that, she says, will be hard on them and society.

Listen to the full story here.

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