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Teenage girl with syringe in hand injects insulin.


One-quarter of young people in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes, according to an eye-opening new report.

The report, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that 23 per cent of adolescents between ages 12 and 19 have diabetes or prediabetes, up from just 9 per cent a decade earlier.

The findings are "very concerning," lead author Ashleigh May, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told USA Today.

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The figures are based on the U.S. population, but evidence shows similar trends are affecting young people in Canada.

The Canadian Diabetes Association notes on its website that rates of Type 2 diabetes are expected to rise by up to 50 per cent in the next 15 years.

The rise of diabetes is strongly linked to growing rates of obesity.

That's because the majority of diabetes cases are Type 2, which occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use it properly. Being overweight is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and most children are overweight at the time of diagnosis, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

It's just one of the reasons nutritionists and other health experts have been sounding the alarm about the rising rates of people who are overweight or obese.

The good news is that emerging research shows Type 2 diabetes may be reversed in the newly diagnosed. A study published last year in the journal Diabetologia found people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes who followed an extreme eight-week diet of 600 calories a day were often able to free themselves of the disease. But more work needs to be done to see if the change is permanent. And it may be difficult for many to follow such a diet without professional help and guidance, which may not be available.

Are you concerned about the growing rates of diabetes? Have you changed the way you and your family eat for health reasons?

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