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February 19, 2001

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Louisville, Kentucky, USA:

I work in a school and I have seen many, many young people with diabetes. It almost seem epidemic. What is causing so many people to get this terrible disease? Why did you not hear about diabetes 20-30 years ago or less? Why are so many children, young people and adults getting this disease? What are we doing wrong? Why isn't there a requirement that all children have periodic tests for diabetes? I know diabetes comes on quickly. Couldn't this help as a preventive measure?

Answer:

There has indeed been an increase in the incidence of diabetes in recent years, both of type 1 and type 2. In the case of type 1, this is presumably due to an increased exposure to one of the environmental triggers. Exactly what this might be is not known, but there seems to be a definite association with a more sedentary lifestyle and a growing dependance on high fat foods and type 2 diabetes in young people, which is increasing all over the world.

DOB