In three decades, the incidence of type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed by nearly 60%.

In three decades, the incidence of type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed by nearly 60%.

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Reference image. People between the ages of 15 and 39 should be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, which is why they were chosen for the study.

Photo: Getty Images

Diabetes is one of the most recurring diseases in the world population. This was confirmed by research published by The British Medical Journal in which the incidence of the type 2 diabetes in the adolescent and young population (15 to 39 years old) over three decades, between 1990 and 2019, in 204 countries around the world. To the concern of the experts, the results tended to the growth of this disease in the coming years.

The study defines diabetes as a global health problem. Around 537 million adults, between the ages of 20 and 79, suffered from it worldwide by 2021. The future estimate is even more serious: that number is expected to climb to 783 million by 2045.

For his part, Type 2 diabetes is traditionally considered a metabolic disorder that occurs, above all, in people of middle age and the elderly, and although it is rare for adolescents and young adults to suffer from it, it has become quite common in the latter type of people.

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According to the study, nothing more USA reported an annual increase of 4.8% in the incidence of type 2 diabetes in young people between the ages of 10 and 19 for the time periods comprised in 2002-2003 and 2011-2012.

But the problem is not only present in the Americans, since the investigation in The British Medical Journal points out that, during the 30 years that were studied, the prevalence of this disease increased by 56.4%: while in 1990 there were 117 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, in 2019 the rate reached 183.

“As our findings indicate, early-onset type 2 diabetes is a growing public health problem,” he explained to the newspaper. The Country of Spain Professor Fan Wang, from the Department of Epidemiology of the Faculty of Public Health of the Harbin Medical University (China), who was also one of the authors of the research.

This growth trend, according to Wang, is especially visible in countries with medium or medium-low socioeconomic development where, for example, the consumption of sugary drinks has doubled. That was the case of Mexico and the adolescents who were between 12 and 18 years old between 1999 and 2006.

Other patterns are also fueling the rise in type 2 diabetes. In Wang’s words, “many countries presented an increase in the proportion of comorbidities attributable to diets rich in soft drinks, processed meat and red meat”.

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Obesity is one of the key factors

One of the main risk points attributable to the increase in the incidence of early-onset type 2 diabetes is overweight and obesity, which is independent of the socioeconomic level of the country.

Other factors of lesser contribution were air pollution by environmental particles and smoking in countries with a high sociodemographic index. Diets poor in fruit and air pollution from solid fuels inside homes in countries with a low sociodemographic index also have an impact.

Gender, a gap to obtain attention

Internationally, women under 30 years of age have poorer diabetes-related quality of life along with higher rates of disability and mortality.

That is why Wang suggests that gender differences should be considered in the formulation of public policies. “According to what our study shows, the effective prevention and control of type 2 diabetes in women under 30 years of age should be further strengthened, especially in less developed regions,” said the researcher.

Finally, Professor Wang pointed out the importance of developing countries establishing interventions that have been successful in other territories with a higher socioeconomic level. Several examples are the tax on cigarettes and the regulation of air quality.

“Countries in the stage of rapid socioeconomic change can learn from these successful initiatives. As for the less socioeconomically developed countries, measures are recommended to improve household conditions and the availability, accessibility and affordability of healthy food,” Wang concluded.

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