"We were not expecting that," said UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Nutrition Chair Dr. Elizabeth Mayer-Davis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Type 1 diabetes is a disorder where the body does not produce insulin and cells cannot absorb sugar from the blood stream. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not produce enough insulin.
Type 2 cases among youth shot up seven percent in the last 10 years, according to the study.
The number of Type 1 cases is also rising, which is particularly concerning for medical professionals since it requires constant maintenance of insulin and can propel kids on a different lifestyle path.
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"Type 1 diabetes is very difficult to live with," Mayer-Davis said. "It requires vigilance every day through the day to take care of yourself in terms of your blood sugar to avoid really serious acute complications day-to-day, let alone the long term complications."
She said that Type 1 is usually prevalent among relatively wealthy, white children, but even that is changing.
"African-American kids and Hispanic kids especially, we're see the fastest increase in Type 1 diabetes."
Medical professionals don't know why these increases are happening.
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Several studies are being done right now to identify contributing factors.
Medical professionals said diabetes risk is not based solely on what kids--or adults--eat. Environment also plays a role.
When it comes to Type 1, there are warning signs and symptoms parents should be looking out for with their child:
- Weight loss
- Extensively hunger or thirst
- Getting up frequently in the middle of the night to use the restroom
"If you can get your child diagnosed sooner rather than later, you reduce risk for really serious complications early on," said Mayer-Davis.