A common misconception is that if you eat cakes, cookies & lots of sugary foods, you’ll get diabetes. This is not the culprit behind the chronic, systemic disease. Another common misconception – based on prior reality – is that type 2 diabetes affects only older adults, a.k.a. “adult-onset diabetes.” Not the case, nor has it been for a while now. A recent study in the U.K. reveals that 1 in 8 new cases of type 2 diabetes is occurring in 18-40-year-old adults vs. 1 in 10 back in 2000.

The complications of this blood glucose disorder can be deeply upsetting from seeing patients experience blindness from diabetic retinopathy; attend dialysis three times per week because of diabetic nephropathy-induced kidney failure, and become wheelchair-bound after undergoing below-the-knee amputations caused by severe nerve and arterial damage.

Usually, by the time these complications manifested, most patients were in their 50-60s, if not older. But going blind or getting a foot cut off at 21? Devastating. Especially in light of the grim mortality data: people with type 2 diabetes have an average life expectancy of 55 because of their higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.

Why Is Diabetes Affecting More And More Young Adults?

A study found that nearly 75% of the younger adults had alarmingly high levels of the “bad” LDL cholesterol, a known risk factor. Yet only 4% were taking lipid-lowering medications like statins.

In addition, the study showed that 3/4 of young adults were obese compared to less than half of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in their 70s.

Another striking pattern: females in the youngest age group (18-40 years) had a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes compared to women 40-60.

Healthier meal plans should be considered.

Plant-based meals with lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish) and whole grains are the leading recommendation. Add some flavor with garlic, black pepper, and paprika. Use seasoning to your advantage to make complex, savory flavors. You should also increase your physical activity. You don’t have to run a marathon. Just 20 minutes of brisk walking 4-5 times per week can be impactful. The rising rates of this chronic illness in young adults add to the global epidemic where the number of people with diabetes has nearly quadrupled from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, according to the World Health Organization. But with aggressive public health campaigns including childhood, elementary and high school education, we can slowly reverse these numbers.

The Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care (CDEC) is a state-of-the-art patient-centered medical facility, achieving excellence in endocrinology for over 45 years.

We can help! If you know someone that is unhappy with their diabetic care or that is still experiencing issues with their health, give us a call today at 954-963-7100.