NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 28, 2006

Individuals who develop type 2 obesity-related diabetes during childhood are nearly five times more likely to suffer from end-stage kidney failure or die by age 55 than those who develop the disease in adulthood, according to an NIH study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

William Knowler, a researcher for NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and colleagues analyzed data from a group of Pima Indians in Arizona that has been tracked since 1965.   The group was selected for its high incidence of diabetes and obesity. 

  • The study finds that of the 1,865 participants with type 2 diabetes, 96 developed the disease in childhood at an average age of 17, although some children were diagnosed with the disease as young as age three and a half.
  • During the 15-year follow-up period, 15 children, or 16 percent of participants with type 2 diabetes, developed end-stage kidney failure or died from diabetic kidney disease by age 55. 
  • By comparison, 133 individuals, or 8 percent of participants who developed diabetes in adulthood, developed end-stage kidney failure or died from diabetic kidney disease.

According to the authors, the incidence of end-stage kidney failure and death by age 55 was almost five times higher among participants who developed type 2 diabetes before age 20 than among those who developed diabetes after age 20.

David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children's Hospital in Boston, said the study of the Pima Indians might be "the tip of the iceberg, letting us know what's in the future for the rest of America if we don't do something about the childhood obesity epidemic."

Source: Meda E. Pavkov et al., "Effect of Youth-Onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus on Incidence of End-Stage Renal Disease and Mortality in Young and Middle-Aged Pima Indians," Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 296, No. 4, July 26, 2006.

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