Health Care

Diabetes, obesity rising among young adults in US: study

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Diabetes and obesity rates are increasing in people ages 20 to 44 in the U.S., according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Over about a ten-year period from 2009 to 2020, diabetes prevalence among those aged 20 to 44 increased from 3 percent to just over 4 percent. Obesity rates increased from about 33 percent to about 41 percent.

Prevalence rates of hypertension, or high blood pressure, also increased from 9 percent to nearly 12 percent, although the authors note that this was not a statistically significant change.

The researchers found differences among racial and ethnic groups. Black adults had the highest rates of hypertension throughout both survey periods at about 20 percent of respondents. In comparison, the prevalence of hypertension among white adults was at about 10 percent.

There was an increase over the study period of hypertension among Mexican American and Hispanic adults, and a significant rise in diabetes in Mexican American adults.

There was no change in prevalence of smoking history and a decrease in prevalence of hyperlipidemia, a condition where there are too many fats like cholesterol present in the blood.

The researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey over several two-year survey periods from 2009 through March 2020. Nearly 13,000 people participated in the surveys, although the authors note that these patterns may have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“The national increases in diabetes and obesity among young adults in the US have major public health implications,” write the authors. “These results highlight the need for public health and clinical interventions, especially as these risk factors can affect lifetime rates of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.”

Tags diabetes obesity

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