Today’s article is related to a medical term that not everyone knows, prediabetes. The prediabetes is the definition given to blood glucose levels above normal but not high enough to be called diabetes mellitus—a level between normal and diabetes.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 adolescents and 1 in 4 young adults have prediabetes

In this study, published in JAMA Pediatrics (link at the end of the post), the results of a cross-sectional study conducted using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2005-2016 are analyzed. The study sample consisted of 5,786 participants, adolescents (ages 12 to 18 years) and young adults (ages 19 to 34 years) without diabetes, based on their fasting plasma glucose, plasma glucose two hours after a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test, and your HbA1c levels.

Topics covered in this article:

Prediabetes Study Findings

  • It is estimated that 1 in 5 adolescents and 1 in 4 young adults have prediabetes.
  • About 10% of the US population lives with diabetes.
  • The adjusted prevalence of prediabetes is higher in men than in women and in obese people.
  • Teenagers and young adults with prediabetes had significantly higher cholesterol levels, systolic blood pressure, abdominal fat, and lower insulin sensitivity than those with normal glucose tolerance, which increased their risk of type 2 diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.

Are we facing a new medical crisis?

“The prevalence of prediabetes in adolescents and young adults reinforces the need to quickly and seriously implement effective public health strategies that promote healthy eating habits, physical activity, and stress management,” Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), comments in the study.

“These healthy lifestyle habits can and should begin early, as children, and should continue through adolescence and into adulthood to reduce the onset of type 2 diabetes.”

For Dr. Ann Albright, director of the CDC’s translation division: “We are already seeing higher rates of type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications in adolescents and young adults, and these new findings are evidence that an epidemic is beginning to take hold.” form and becoming an extremely worrying threat to the future health of the population.”


People with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other associated pathologies to it, such as kidney and cardiovascular diseases.

The study tells us that there is a problem that needs to be addressed now, since people with prediabetes are going to become diabetics sooner or later. And when that happens, between 20-25% of the young American population will be at risk of diabetes. If left untreated, this problem will become an epidemic in a short period of time.

By 2040, one in 10 people in the world will be diabetic.

The above figures refer to the United States, but do not think that it is an exclusive problem of North American society. Diabetes is estimated to affects between 5 and 10% of the population world. For every person who is diagnosed, experts say there is another who has not been treated. The data on the incidence of this disease will therefore be indicative. In UK more than 2 million people they do not know that he has diabetes, he has the symptoms, although he has not received a diagnosis.

There is a total of 428 million people with diabetes in the world. Bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle (excessive screen time and idleness) in certain groups (especially young people) means that this figure is increasing worryingly. Specialists say that in 2040 one in 10 people in the world will suffer from this disease.

These figures show that it is time to react, since the choice to do nothing could be catastrophic. If not addressed now, the problem will only get worse.

The main consequences of poor care of the disease can be traumatic for the patient. 70% of non-traumatic amputations limbs are due to diabetes. Not maintaining the proper guidelines or necessary control of this disease can also cause 16% blindness among the total percentage of diagnosed diabetics. It is important to go to necessary ophthalmological controls, the diabetic retina is one of the terrible consequences of this ailment.

The role of optometrists and ophthalmologists in prediabetes

Their role is to be proactive and become the first defense barrier against this problem.

First, by identifying patients with prediabetes through comprehensive eye exams. Once identified, refer patients, based on age, to diabetes prevention programs and working in collaboration with primary care physicians.

Second, by playing a role in continuing to educate their young patients and their parents about diabetes, including advice and explanations on how exercise, diet, and medication can preserve quality of life.

In conclusion, be vigilant now instead of waiting for the problem to arise when they are adults and it is too late.

Study: Prevalence of Prediabetes Among Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States, 2005-2016

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