"We in particular were interested in younger adults because my suspicion is, that is going to be the new wave," she said.
In the United States, about 18 million people have diagnosed diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, but millions more are thought to have it without knowing it. The overwhelming majority have type 2 diabetes, in which the body does not make enough insulin or use the hormone properly. Insulin enables the body to utilize glucose, or sugar, as fuel.
Kandeel, like other experts, blames obesity as a major trigger for soaring rates of both diabetes and associated hospitalizations. "Behavior modification is a must if we are to make any impact on this very high rate of diabetes that is threatening the future generation," he said. Much research, he said, has proven that a healthy diet and regular exercise help greatly to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.
The gender gap in diabetic hospitalizations surprised Lee, and she can only speculate on its cause.
Women with diabetes may be sicker than their male counterparts, because they don't get optimal care, she said.
Also, women have higher rates of obesity than men, the researchers noted. And women with diabetes often have depression, and that may affect the course of the disease, Lee said.
The new research, Lee said, "calls attention to the issue of young adults [and diabetes]. We need to focus on the prevention of diabetes in the young adult population."
It's possible that their study overstates the problem, the authors said, noting increased awareness of diabetes or multiple per-patient hospitalizations may have affected the findings. Further studies are needed to confirm the results and guide efforts to care and pay for this growing patient group, they concluded.
Hospital fees for diabetes in 2006 totaled $200.1 billion compared with $62.5 billion in
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