Diabetes in children increases
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AUGUST 25, 2000

As the number of Americans afflicted with diabetes increases nationwide, Native youth are facing a significant threat from the disease which has already become an epidemic in Indian Country.

On Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a series of findings on diabetes rates over the last decade. Of note to the Native community are the high rates of Type 2 diabetes in Indian youth.

Native Americans ages 15 to 19 have the highest prevalence, or occurrence, in the nation of Type 2 diabetes.

Among the Pima of Arizona, the prevalence per 1000 youth is a staggering 50.9. For all Indian youth, as reported by the Indian Health Services, the prevalence is 4.5.

Non-Native youth have just a prevalence of 1.7 per 1000.

Type 2 diabetes typically occurs in adults and results from the improper use or inadequate production of insulin, the hormone the body needs to convert sugar, starches, and other food into the energy.

But cases of Type 2 diabetes among Pima teenagers were reported as early as 1979.

The statistics presented by the CDC are based on a review of current reports on diabetes. Not only are cases of diabetes rising among Indian youth, but among the entire population.

The CDC reports a 30 percent increase in diabetes from 1990 to 1998. The CDC attributes the rise to the couch-potato, computer-ready, sedentary life many Americans now lead.

"We need to take diabetes very seriously as individuals and as a nation," said Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, director of the CDC.

The CDC is recommending better awareness and monitoring of the disease by doctors. But as always, exercising and eating right are the key factors in preventing diabetes, say experts.

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Relevant Links:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -