Diabetes type 2 sufferers are getting younger as unhealthy lifestyles take their toll, according to new research by health institutes Nivel and RIVM for diabetes charity Diabetesfonds.
It is the first time data for diabetes, collected from 500 doctors’ surgeries across the country, have been split into separate figures for diabetes 1 and 2, the charity said.
Some eight years ago the average age for a diabetes diagnosis was 62.9. This has now dropped to 60, researchers found.
Exactly why this is happening is not clear but increasingly unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as too much processed food and not enough excercise, are likely causes, professor of diabetes research Hanno Pijl told RTL Nieuws.
Obesity is one of the main triggers for diabetes 2, which also afflicts an estimated 3,600 people in their 20s, 1,500 people in their 30s and some few hundred teenagers. Some 140 people are diagnosed with the disease every day.
The fact that family doctors are more alert to the presence of the disease may be another reason for the age drop, Pijl said. ‘There is a growing awareness among doctors that obesity will lead to diabetes 2 earlier in life. And that means it is diagnosed earlier as well.’
The number of people suffering from diabetes 2, which can lead to heart disease, circulatory problems and respiratory illnesses, will show a steady increase in the next 20 years, Diabetesfonds warned.
Population growth and an ageing population will see a rise of 130,000 people with diabetes 2 in 2040 which will take the total up from the current 1,028,700 cases to 1,332,700, the charity estimates.
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