Diabetes incidence increased among youth during Covid pandemic: US study

Young-onset diabetes is a serious long-term health condition that poses significant risks to affected individuals, particularly those with type 2 diabetes and racial and ethnic minority groups, such as non-Hispanic black individuals. Previous research has shown that the incidence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increased among youth in the US before the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, it has been associated with SARS-CoV-2, the respiratory virus that causes COVID-19. Possible damage to pancreatic cells, leading to acute diabetes. The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased various risk factors for diabetes, including less physical activity, increased sedentary behavior, sleep disruption, and higher intake of processed foods.


A recent study published in JAMA Network Open, titled ‘incidence of diabetes ‘Among youth before and during the COVID-19 pandemic’ has observed a significant increase in newly diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What the study found

The study found that the incidence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes among youth has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the period before the pandemic. Notably, the increases were more pronounced in specific demographic groups, particularly individuals aged 10 to 19 years, male individuals, and Hispanic individuals.
During the study period, 1,200 young individuals were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, 1,100 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and 63 patients were classified under “other” diabetes. The incidence of type 1 diabetes increased from 18.5 per 100,000 person-years during 2016–2019 to 22.4 per 100,000 person-years between 2020 and 2021.


By comparison, during 2020-2021, the incidence of new-onset type 1 diabetes was 17% higher than in 2016-2019. This increase was notable among individuals aged 10 to 19 years, male individuals, and Hispanic individuals. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the rate increased by a massive 62% between 2016-2019 and 2020-2021, from 14.8 to 24.7 per 100,000 person-years.

Early signs and symptoms of diabetes

While clinical/medical testing is the best way to identify diabetes, here are some symptoms that may serve as prompts to get tested.
Frequent urination is a common symptom of diabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels increase. The kidneys attempt to eliminate excess sugar from the blood, leading to increased urination, especially noticeable during the night. Along with increased urination, individuals with diabetes often experience intense thirst. This results in the body losing more water due to frequent urination, potentially leading to dehydration and an increased feeling of thirst.


Additionally, diabetes can cause constant hunger. The digestive system converts food into glucose, which serves as the body’s energy source. However, in diabetes, insufficient glucose moves from the bloodstream into the cells, causing individuals to have a constant feeling of hunger regardless of a recent meal.
Fatigue is also a common symptom of type 2 diabetes, caused by inadequate sugar transfer from the bloodstream to cells. This affects the energy levels and the person feels constantly tired. Additionally, diabetes can slow down the healing process of cuts and wounds. High sugar levels damage nerves and blood vessels, affect blood circulation and delay wound healing. This slow healing also increases the risk of infection.

How does diabetes affect a person?

Diabetes, a long-term metabolic disorder, affects individuals by disrupting their body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.
In type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells, requiring lifelong insulin therapy. Type 2 diabetes results from insufficient insulin production or ineffective use, often related to lifestyle and genetics. Both types can lead to high blood sugar levels, causing symptoms such as frequent thirst, urination, fatigue and blurred vision. Over time, diabetes can damage vital organs including the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves, increasing the risk of heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and nerve damage. Proper management through medication, diet and lifestyle changes is important to reduce complications.

How to stay safe and manage diabetes

To effectively manage diabetes and stay safe, start by establishing a strong relationship with a health care/medical professional who can guide you through the journey. They help you understand your specific type of diabetes and learn about managing it, including healthy eating with a balanced diet and regular physical activity.


Next, monitor your blood sugar levels frequently, follow prescribed medication plans, and manage stress through relaxation techniques and adequate sleep. Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, and avoiding smoking are also important. To minimize major complications, prioritize comprehensive health checkups to ensure overall well-being.

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