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In the past, doctors at Boston?s Joslin Diabetes Center saw only a handful of children with type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes because it is a disease of people in their 50s, 60s, and older. Then in the early 1990s, the number of cases increased 5-fold. Today that number has doubled.
"There is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in youth, absolutely," Lori Laffel, MD, MPH, head of the pediatric unit at the Joslin Diabetes Center, said. The cause: inactivity and overeating. In an effort to calculate how many young Americans actually have the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will conduct a study that will count all the diabetes cases among 6 million people under age 20 for 5 years. It expects 6000 of them to have it at the start and 800 more to be diagnosed annually, 30% of them with type 2.