Both experts said the fact that many young people aren't managing their diabetes is particularly troubling.
"Young people were not meeting the A1C goals as much as we would've liked to see. The concern is that they have more time to develop complications because they will have the disease for a long time," Cowie said.
Another worry, Zonszein said, is that type 2 diabetes that occurs in young people seems to be a particularly aggressive form of the disease.
"They respond much less to insulin and are much more insulin-resistant. They will develop more complications at a young age," he said.
Zonszein said education is key for all people with diabetes. "Right now, people often don't get education until late in the disease. But, people need to know why they need these medications," he said. "It's hard to take all these pills when you feel well, so you have to know what's going on and what the medications can do. If you don't know your disease, you won't take the medications for the long term."
"I see this paper as an alarm," Zonszein added. With current rates of obesity, and the increasing number of people being diagnosed with diabetes, especially type 2, he said, the health care system may be overwhelmed with younger, sicker people with serious diabetes complications if only a fraction achieve optimal diabetes management.
Learn more about steps you can take to manage diabetes well from the National Diabetes Education Program.
SOURCES: Catherine Cowie, Ph.D., director, Diabetes Epidemiology Program, U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Md.; Joel Zonszein, M.D., director, Clinical Diabetes Center, Montefiore Medical
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