Diabetes continues its relentless rise

April 13, 2017 by Serena Gordon, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—Two new studies on diabetes deliver good and bad news, but the overall message is that the blood sugar disease remains a formidable public health burden.

The first study looked at the incidence of type 1 and type 2 in U.S. children, and uncovered this troubling trend: From 2002 to 2012, the rates for both types of diabetes increased, especially among racial and ethnic minorities.

But a bit of hope was offered up in the second study: Swedish researchers reported a drop in the incidence of heart disease and stroke in adults with both types of diabetes.

"These studies highlight our concerns about the increasing prevalence of diabetes. Every 23 seconds, another person is diagnosed with diabetes [in the United States]," said Dr. William Cefalu, chief scientific, medical and mission officer for the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Cefalu added that the Swedish study was encouraging and shows that things are "trending in the right direction. Because of research in diabetes, we've been able to improve the lives of millions of people with diabetes around the world, but the disease is still increasing worldwide. We still have a lot of work to do."

In the United States, approximately 29 million people have diabetes, according to the ADA. The vast majority of those have type 2 diabetes. About 1.3 million people have type 1 diabetes.

In people with type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps usher sugar from foods into the body's cells to be used as fuel. When someone has type 2 diabetes, this process doesn't work well and levels rise. Obesity is the main risk factor for type 2 diabetes, though it's not the only factor involved in the disease.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The body's immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leaves someone with type 1 diabetes with little to no insulin. To stay alive, someone with type 1 diabetes must replace that insulin through injections.

"The specific genes and environmental/behavioral factors that cause type 2 diabetes are different than those that cause type 1 diabetes," explained Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, the author of the study on diabetes incidence in children.

Mayer-Davis and colleagues found that type 1 diabetes was increasing 1.8 percent a year. The increase was significantly larger for Hispanic children, at 4.2 percent a year. That compared with 1.2 percent for white children, the findings showed.

The factors underlying the increase aren't entirely clear, she said.

Although far fewer children have type 2 diabetes, the disease is increasing faster than type 1. Between 2002 and 2012, the rate of type 2 diabetes increased 4.8 percent a year. The annual increase in type 2 diabetes in black children was 6.3 percent. For Asian/Pacific Islanders, the yearly increase was 8.5 percent, and for Native Americans, it was almost 9 percent, the investigators found.

"The increase in incidence of type 2 diabetes is likely related primarily to the increases in overweight and obesity in youth, although this is not the only reason," said Mayer-Davis. She's a professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The second study looked at all of the people registered in a Swedish National Database from 1998 through 2012, and followed their health through 2014. The database has nearly 37,000 people with type 1 diabetes and more than 457,000 with type 2 diabetes. These patients were compared to similar people without diabetes (the "control" group).

The researchers saw roughly a 40 percent greater reduction in heart disease and stroke in people with type 1 diabetes compared to the matched controls. In people with type 2 diabetes, there was roughly a 20 percent greater drop in heart disease and stroke compared to the control group, the study showed.

When it came to deaths during the study period, people with type 1 diabetes had similar reductions in the number of deaths compared to controls. People with type 2, however, had smaller reductions in deaths versus the , the researchers found.

Even with these improvements, people with either type of diabetes still have much higher overall rates of premature death and than the control groups, the study authors noted.

"We believe the changes observed in our study most likely reflect a combination of advances in clinical care for patients with diabetes," said study author Dr. Aidin Rawshani. He is from the Institute of Medicine at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden.

"Perhaps the most important is improved management of cardiovascular risk factors," he said. These risk factors include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, signs of early kidney damage and poor blood sugar control. He said treatment with medications and cholesterol-lowering drugs likely contributed to the improvement.

Both studies were published April 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Explore further: Youth with type 2 diabetes develop complications more often than type 1 peers

More information: Aidin Rawshani, M.D. and Ph.D. student, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the Institute of Medicine at the University of Gothenberg, Sweden; Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, Ph.D., professor, nutrition and medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; William Cefalu, M.D., chief scientific, medical and mission officer, American Diabetes Association; April 13, 2017, New England Journal of Medicine.

Learn more about preventing type 2 diabetes from the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Related Stories

Youth with type 2 diabetes develop complications more often than type 1 peers

February 28, 2017
Teens and young adults with type 2 diabetes develop kidney, nerve, and eye diseases - as well as some risk factors for heart disease - more often than their peers with type 1 diabetes in the years shortly after diagnosis. ...

Serum trypsinogen levels down in type 1 diabetes

January 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Patients with type 1 diabetes have significantly lower serum trypsinogen levels than those without type 1 diabetes, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in Diabetes Care.

Chronic hepatitis B prevalence higher in those with T2DM

December 23, 2016
(HealthDay)—Patients with type 2 diabetes have higher prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus infection (CHB), according to a study published online Dec. 8 in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation.

Arsenic metabolism linked to development of type 1 diabetes

November 22, 2016
(HealthDay)—Arsenic metabolism seems to be associated with type 1 diabetes in young people, with a potential interaction by folate levels, according to a study published online Nov. 11 in Diabetes Care.

More years lost for whites versus South Asians, blacks with T2DM

December 27, 2016
(HealthDay)—Whites with type 2 diabetes have more life years lost than South Asians or blacks, according to a study published online Dec. 20 in Diabetes Care.

Incidence of hospitalization for hypoglycemia decreasing

December 3, 2016
(HealthDay)—For patients with type 1 diabetes, the incidence of hospitalization for hypoglycemia (HH) decreased over time in Denmark, with an 8.4 percent annual decrease, according to a study published online Nov. 29 in ...

Recommended for you

Hacking human 'drug trafficking' network could make diabetes treatments more effective

April 23, 2018
Making tiny changes to existing diabetes treatments can alter how they interact with cells, and potentially make the medicines more effective.

Vitamin D deficiency linked to greater risk of diabetes

April 19, 2018
An epidemiological study conducted by researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Seoul National University suggests that persons deficient in vitamin D may be at much greater risk of developing ...

One class of drug used to treat type 2 diabetes may not reduce the risk of death when compared with placebo

April 17, 2018
One class of drug used to treat type 2 diabetes may not reduce the risk of death when compared with placebo, suggests new findings.

People with Type 2 diabetes who eat breakfast later, more likely to have a higher BMI

April 16, 2018
Being an "evening person" is linked to higher body mass indices among people with Type 2 diabetes, and having breakfast later in the day seems to be what drives this association, according to a new paper in the journal Diabetic ...

Continuous glucose monitors proven cost-effective, add to quality of life for diabetics

April 12, 2018
Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) offer significant, daily benefits to people with type 1 diabetes, providing near-real time measurements of blood sugar levels, but they can be expensive. A new study by researchers from the ...

Genetic signature predicts diabetes diagnosis

April 9, 2018
University of Queensland researchers have found a way to identify infants who will go on to develop type 1 diabetes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.