A troubling new study reveals an increase in type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children up to age 19.

Doctors have been warning us for a long time that diabetes could be on the rise in children and adolescents, but this study is the first time any firm data demonstrating that idea has been released. The research looked at a nationally representative group of more than 3 million children under the age of 20. Participants were from California, Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, along with some selected Native American reservations, ensuring a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Information was collected from 2001 through 2009, and the data shows that there was a 21 percent increase in type 1 diabetes in all the children studied and a 30 percent increase in type 2 diabetes among children ages 10 to 19. The report revealed that, while typically found more in white children, type 1 diabetes has also increased among black and Hispanic youths, especially those age 15-19. Further, type 2 diabetes has increased among all participants except Asian-Pacific Islander and American Indian children, according to the report.

“I don’t understand the basis for an increase,” said Robin S. Goland, a doctor who has been in practice for 25 years and is a co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University. “There are a few possibilities, but we need to figure it out if it’s something in the environment or something in our genes.”

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