According to a recent study, 18% of adolescents have prediabetes. That means their blood glucose levels are too high and they are on their way to developing type 2 diabetes. The percentage keeps getting higher as Americans age with 24% of young adults having prediabetes. (1) According to the CDC, 40% of those 45-65 have prediabetes. (2) Add that to the fact that it is predicted there will be future insulin shortages and that’s reason for alarm.
Prediabetes is a sign the body is not functioning properly. By 2060, the number of American adults diagnosed with diabetes is expected to triple. (3) Triple! And the numbers of those diagnosed with diabetes have been growing faster than anyone predicted. This at the same time that we see the cost rising rapidly for insulin which is making it inaccessible for many who have been prescribed it right now. We see in the news that Americans are rationing their insulin because they can’t afford the high costs, and some are dying from a result of lack of insulin. That does not bode well for the future, with rising rates and less access.
More Adolescents with Prediabetes and Future Insulin Shortage
The body requires insulin to turn food into energy by helping glucose get into the cell. Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas doesn’t create enough insulin and it requires insulin injections to regulate blood glucose levels. Type 1 can happen at any age while type 2 used to be known as adult-onset diabetes because it typically occurred in adulthood. Bad habits and rising obesity rates have changed that! Now we call it type 2 diabetes because rates are increasing at younger ages. Type 2 Diabetes is when the pancreas can no longer make enough insulin or when the body doesn’t use the insulin properly because of insulin resistance which leads to high blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is frequently treated with drugs or insulin. Increasing rates of type 2 diabetes means an increasing need for insulin.
A 2018 study published in, “The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology” looked at studies and increasing rates of diabetes. They found that based on current resources and increasing rates of diabetes in 2030, only about half of those who will require insulin will have access to it. (4) These studies only look at how we need to increase resources to manage disease but maybe it’s time for a different approach to type 2 diabetes. One that supports preventative action.
What contributes to increasing rates of type 2 diabetes? 4 Reasons for Rising Rates of Diabetes
Rising Obesity Rates
Obesity is strongly tied to increased risk of diabetes. Did you know that the rates of childhood obesity have tripled since the 1970’s? Children don’t get out to exercise (or what should be known as play) as much as they used to. To help lower rates of obesity and diabetes children and their parents need to get out and play! Children who don’t exercise enough become young adults who don’t exercise enough, and bad habits continue. We need to change our habits in childhood and adulthood to get better outcomes. We also need to look at the food we are giving children and ourselves. Their diets are full of processed foods that are low on nutrients and high on carbohydrates. Which brings me to the next point.
Increased Carbohydrates and Sugar
You’re probably thinking that this belongs in the above point, but most people don’t realize how much sugar and carbohydrates are harming their bodies and the bodies of children. It starts at birth for many with sugar-based formula that set them up for an unhealthy life. It’s not just about lowering calories; it’s about lowering harmful processed sugars and carbohydrates that make the liver and pancreas work overtime. The human body is like a Swiss watch with all parts working together. Your liver and pancreas are an important part of that. If these organs are fatigued, they can’t keep up with the excess glucose, or sugar.
Increased rates of diabetes could be prevented if all medical professionals performed complete testing. Just testing blood sugar levels does not give a complete picture of how the body is metabolizing sugar and why it is responding the way that it is. Complete testing should look at insulin levels, leptin, c-peptide, proinsulin, fructosamine, and HOMA-IR. Have you heard of any of those? Most likely not, because most traditional testing doesn’t even look at that. Traditional diabetes testing is dangerously incomplete. It’s important to talk with a doctor that understands the importance of complete testing and returning the body to homeostasis.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and the number one cause of autoimmune disease, especially in children, is vaccines. You start messing with the immune system at a young age and that leads to life-long diseases like diabetes. If you understand the immune system, then you understand why this happens. Kids don’t have a chance when they are starting life with so many vaccines.
Addressing Rising Rates of Adolescents with Prediabetes and Insulin Shortages
Modern medicine is not making us healthier with all the technology and more pharmaceuticals. The best way to address these concerns is to change the habits and thinking that leads to more illness, increased adolescents with diabetes and eventually insulin shortages.
It’s time to end bad habits and time for a different approach. By ending bad habits like not exercising, eating too much sugar, and getting vaccinated we can go a long way with prevention. Working with a proficient provider and getting properly tested will allow for more effective understanding of the body and how to keep it functioning properly. Don’t wait until it’s time to ration the insulin.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
Resources for Adolescents with Prediabetes: