There has been some shocking news released in the Journal of the American Medical Association. We knew that diabetes in adolescents cases have been on the rise, but it could be worse than we initially thought in teenagers.

A study was completed by Andy Menke, Ph.D., from Social & Scientific Systems and his study has shown daunting news to share with the diabetic community. Before the recent study, there were estimations that diabetes prevalence in teens in the United States was around 0.25%, but those estimations were way off. With the new information, experts are now suggesting that the real numbers are around 0.8%, which is much higher than the original numbers. But this wasn’t the only grim news from the study. The authors also note that 1 in 3 cases of diabetes was undiagnosed, and an additional 20% of the population had prediabetes.

adolescent diabetesOne of the biggest problems with the study was that they didn’t dictate between teens with type 1 diabetes and type 2. The difference between the two could have a significant impact on how we look at the results from this study. The researchers from the study suggest that not only are we seeing more teens with type 2 diabetes, but type 1 as well.

The researchers looked at over 2,600 teenagers that ranged in ages from 12 to 19. The study was done by looking at data from 2005-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and received funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases.  With each teenaged participant, they looked at fasting glucose levels and completed a survey to give demographic information. They also included a question to show if they had already received a diabetes screening from their primary physician.

Of all the participants in the study, 62 of them already had diabetes, 20 of them had diabetes but had not been diagnosed. Additionally, over 500 of them had prediabetes.

It’s easy to see that the results from this study could have a huge impact on the way that we view diabetes in teens. The problem is much worse than we thought. “A large percentage of adolescents with diabetes are unaware of it, and these young people are likely to have type 2 diabetes. Also, a large proportion of adolescents have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for type 2,” The lead author of the research study, Menke says. “There are effective treatments for diabetes, but those treatments are not useful to people who have not been diagnosed.”

While we’ve known that the number of new diabetes cases has gotten out of control, it’s still shocking to see that it’s worse than we thought, especially in younger Americans. As Menke said, there are plenty of ways that we can help these teens to reverse their condition, or manage their diabetes safely, but we can’t do that unless we are having them screened for the condition. We can’t treat a problem that we don’t know they have.

Hopefully, this new information will lead to a great push towards reducing diabetes in teens and children. If these teenagers are diagnosed with diabetes at such a young age, it could result in serious health complications down the road. But, if it can be detected in the prediabetes stages, a few simple lifestyle changes could make a whole world of difference.