Once Considered an Adult Disease, Diabetes Now Affecting Youth

Published on November 18, 2020

Mother helps daughter take a glucose test

Weld County — November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s focus is on taking care of youth who have diabetes.

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic conditions among school-age youth in Weld County and the United States, affecting about 193,000 youth under 20 years old. Nearly one in five adolescents aged 12 -17 and one in four young adults aged 19 – 34, are living with prediabetes, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

“The prevalence of prediabetes in adolescents and young adults reinforces the critical need for effective public health strategies that promote healthy eating habits, physical activity and stress management,” said Mike Schwan, MS RD Weld County Public Health Childhood Obesity Prevention Specialist. “These lifestyle behaviors can begin early in a child’s life and should continue through adolescence and adulthood to reduce onset of type 2 diabetes.”

What can be done?

Parents can help turn the tide on adolescent and young adult prediabetes by encouraging healthy eating and increased physical activity. They can aim for their children to get 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

There are also several ways local communities can create a supportive environment to promote healthy weight and help prevent diabetes related to obesity. They can:

  • Support mothers who choose to breastfeed.
  • Work with early care and education centers and schools to improve healthy food and beverage offerings and opportunities for physical activity for children.
  • Increase access to healthy and affordable foods, including fruits and vegetables; and decreasing processed foods and soda. Make water your beverage of choice.
  • Make it easier and safer to walk and bike where families live, learn, work and play.

Learn more about diabetes and prediabetes from the CDC.