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Age of Onset for Type 2 Diabetes: Know Your Risk

by Development PRT on 0 Comments

In recent years, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among children and teenagers has been on the rise in India. Factors such as dietary choices, increasing obesity rates, and sedentary lifestyles have contributed to this alarming trend. It is no longer a condition limited to older adults. To prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, regardless of age, it is crucial to understand the risk factors and take preventive measures. In this blog, we will explore the age at which type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the impact on children and young adults, statistics related to racial groups, ways to delay the onset, and frequently asked questions about the disease.

Age at the Time of Diagnosis

According to the 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 1.5 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed in U.S. adults in 2018. Adults between the ages of 45 and 64 were most likely to receive a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The number of new cases in 2018 for different age groups was as follows:

  • 18–44 years: 452,000
  • 45–64 years: 706,000
  • 65 years and over: 326,000

Prevalence in Children and Young Adults

The CDC report also highlighted that in 2018, around 210,000 individuals under the age of 20 received a diabetes diagnosis, out of which 187,000 had type 1 diabetes. However, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes diagnoses have been increasing significantly among individuals aged 10 to 19. Previously, type 2 diabetes was more common among adults, while type 1 diabetes affected children and young adults. But the scenario has changed, and more children are now being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Experts believe that type 1 diabetes is primarily caused by an autoimmune reaction, while type 2 diabetes is linked to lifestyle factors. A study conducted in 2012 predicted that the number of type 2 diabetes cases in youth could quadruple by 2050 if the current incidence rates continue to rise.

Statistics by Racial Groups

Certain racial and ethnic groups have a higher risk of developing either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Racial disparities and socioeconomic factors likely contribute to this phenomenon. According to the CDC, the likelihood of receiving a diabetes diagnosis after the age of 18 in different racial groups is as follows:

  • American and Alaskan Natives: 14.7%
  • Hispanic Americans: 12.5%
  • Black Americans: 11.7%
  • Non-Hispanic Asians: 9.2%
  • Non-Hispanic Whites: 7.5%

Between 2002 and 2010, the rate of type 1 diabetes diagnoses among Hispanic children and youth increased significantly. However, from 2011 to 2015, the rates among Pacific Islander and Asian children and youth showed the highest increases. As for type 2 diabetes, there were similar rises in diagnoses among children and youth across all racial groups between 2002 and 2010. But from 2011 to 2015, only the rates for non-Hispanic whites remained stable, while the rates for all other groups, especially Black Americans, rose significantly.

Addressing racial disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes is of utmost importance to ensure equitable healthcare for all individuals.

Risk Factors for Adults

Type 2 diabetes is influenced by a combination of health issues and lifestyle factors. While some risk factors are beyond our control, such as age and genetics, lifestyle factors often play a significant role.

Fixed risk factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes include age and genetics. As individuals age, the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes increases, with those over the age of 45 being at higher risk. Additionally, having a close family member with the condition can also increase the risk.

Certain health conditions are associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These include vascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or "good" cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, a history of gestational diabetes or delivering a baby weighing over 9 pounds, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or other indicators of insulin resistance, depression, and acanthosis nigricans, a condition where areas of the skin become darker and velvety due to high glucose levels.

Prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis, is also a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. However, taking action to lower glucose levels, such as adopting a healthier diet and engaging in regular physical exercise, can help slow down or even reverse the progression to type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle factors play a crucial role in the development of type 2 diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle with limited physical activity and a diet high in processed foods and added sugars increase the likelihood of obesity, which in turn increases the risk of diabetes. According to the CDC, approximately 89% of adults with diabetes in the United States are overweight or obese. Losing weight, especially around 7% of body weight, can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Risk Factors for Children

Children and adolescents may also be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Screening for diabetes is recommended for individuals under the age of 18 who have a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th percentile, display symptoms like acanthosis nigricans, have related health conditions such as high blood pressure, have a close family member with type 2 diabetes, have a birth parent who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, or belong to high-risk groups such as Black Americans or Pacific Islanders.

Racial Inequity and Diabetes

Racial disparities exist in the onset, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of diabetes. Black Americans are almost twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as white individuals, and these disparities have been growing over the past few decades. Biological factors, including obesity, contribute to the higher rates of diabetes in certain racial groups. However, socioeconomic factors also play a significant role. Limited access to safe exercise spaces, affordable and fresh foods, and healthcare services can contribute to the development and management of diabetes.

Efforts must be made to address these disparities, including increased access to resources, research focusing on diverse populations, and improved awareness and education within affected communities.

Delaying the Onset of Diabetes

While not all cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented, it is possible to delay its onset and reduce the risk of complications. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are key factors in preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, losing about 7% of body weight can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58%. Diabetes medication may also be prescribed to delay the onset of the disease. Consulting with a healthcare professional is crucial to determine the best course of action based on individual circumstances.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about the risk of type 2 diabetes:

  1. What are some risk factors for type 2 diabetes? Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The most common risk factor is being overweight or obese. Other factors include

having a history of gestational diabetes, metabolic syndrome (such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease), and a family history of diabetes.

  1. What is the main risk factor for type 2 diabetes? Statistics indicate that obesity is the most common risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Approximately 89% of individuals with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.
  2. How can prediabetes be prevented from progressing to diabetes? If you have prediabetes, you can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by engaging in regular physical exercise, losing 5-7% of your body weight (individual results may vary), and making dietary changes. Taking these preventive measures can help control blood sugar levels and slow down or even prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes.


In recent years, the age of onset for type 2 diabetes has shifted, with an increasing number of cases being diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. This change can be attributed to various factors, including dietary habits, obesity rates, and low levels of physical activity.

It is crucial to be aware of the risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes and take proactive steps to prevent or delay its onset, regardless of age. Factors such as age, genetics, related health conditions, prediabetes, and lifestyle choices all contribute to the risk of developing diabetes. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and making dietary modifications, it is possible to reduce the risk and improve overall well-being.

It is also essential to address the racial disparities in diabetes prevalence, diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. Efforts should be made to promote equitable access to healthcare, education, and resources for all communities, particularly those disproportionately affected by diabetes.

By understanding the risk factors and taking preventive measures, individuals can empower themselves to lead healthier lives and reduce the impact of type 2 diabetes on themselves and their communities.

Remember, consulting with healthcare professionals and seeking personalized advice is essential for managing and preventing diabetes effectively. Stay proactive, stay informed, and take charge of your health.

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