A study published in the Journal of Women’s Health has shown a rapid increase in the number of hospitalizations due to diabetes for young adults — particularly young women.
Diabetes hospitalizations were up by 66% for all ages and sexes, but the number of diabetes hospitalizations among younger adults, ages 30 to 39 years, more than doubled from 1993 to 2006.
This pattern of hospitalizations echoes the dramatic increase in rates of obesity across the United States in the last 30 years, according to the study by the University of Michigan (U-M) Health System.
Young women were 1.3 times more likely to be hospitalized than young men, and the authors believe this may be due to higher rates of obesity for women vs. men in this age group.
Another possibility, researchers stated, is that women with diabetes may be sicker than their male counterparts, which could be related to the medical care they receive. For example, younger women with diabetes are less likely to receive preventive care for their diabetes.
“Our findings suggest that further attention must be paid to the young adult population,” study author Joyce Lee, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher for the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, stated in a press release. “We need more diabetes prevention interventions targeting the young adult population, and women in particular, to prevent further increases in diabetes. In addition, we need more medical care interventions to improve the overall health of young adults with diabetes.”
The findings by the team of diabetes, public health and women’s health experts reveal a serious shift in the burden of diabetes and predict a heavy future financial toll.
Adjusting for inflation, hospital charges for diabetes in 2006 tallied $200.1 billion compared with $62.5 billion in 1993.
“As rates of diabetes continue to increase, particularly among young adults, the future economic burden on Medicare will only escalate as people age,” Lee stated.