From the Journals

Nearly one in five U.S. adolescents have prediabetes



Nearly one in five adolescents and one in four young adults in the United States have prediabetes, with a higher prevalence among males, a study has found.

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Linda J. Andes, PhD, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and coauthors reported in JAMA Pediatrics their analysis of data from 2,606 adolescent (12-18 years) and 3,180 young adult (19-34 years) participants in the 2005-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

This found that the percentage with prediabetes – defined as either impaired fasting glucose (IFG), impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or increased hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) level – was 18% among adolescents and 24% among young adults.

The most common condition was IFG, which was seen in 11% of adolescents and 16% of young adults. The rate of IGT was 4% in adolescents and 6% of young adults, while elevated HbA1c levels were seen in 5% of adolescents and 8% of young adults.

This information is important because “In adults, these three phenotypes increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular diseases,” Dr. Andes and coauthors wrote. “In 2011-2012, the overall prevalence of prediabetes among U.S. adults, defined as the presence of any of the three glucose metabolism dysregulation phenotypes, was 38% and it increased to about 50% in persons 65 years and older.”

Dr. Andes and associates noted that isolated IFG was the most common glucose dysregulation seen in both adolescents and young adults. “While individuals with IFG are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, few primary prevention trials have included individuals selected for the presence of IFG and none have been conducted in adolescents with IFG or IGT to our knowledge.”

The study saw some key gender differences in prevalence. For example, the prevalence of IFG was significantly lower in adolescent girls than in boys (7% vs. 15%; P less than .001), and in young women, compared with young men (10% vs. 22%; P less than .001).

“These findings are consistent with those of other studies in adults; however, the underlying mechanisms for explaining this discrepancy are still unclear,” Dr. Andes and coauthors wrote.

Ethnicity also appeared to influence risk, with the prevalence of IFG significantly lower in non-Hispanic black adolescents, compared with Hispanic adolescents. However, increased HbA1c levels were significantly more prevalent in non-Hispanic black adolescents, compared with Hispanic or non-Hispanic white adolescents.

“These findings highlight the need for additional studies on the long-term consequences and preventive strategies of abnormal glucose metabolism as measured by HbA1c levels in adolescents and young adults, especially of minority racial/ethnic groups,” the authors wrote.

Adolescents with prediabetes had significantly higher systolic blood pressure, non-HDL cholesterol, waist-to-height ratio, higher body mass index, and lower insulin sensitivity, compared with those with normal glucose tolerance. Among young adults with prediabetes, there was significantly higher systolic blood pressure and non-HDL cholesterol, compared with individuals with normal glucose tolerance.

No funding or conflicts of interest were declared.

SOURCE: Andes LJ et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2019 Dec 2. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.4498.

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