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Researchers struggle to explain rise of Type 1 diabetes

For some time now, public health officials have been sounding the alarm on Type 2 diabetes, which has been increasing in incidence along with obesity. But as Scientific American reports, data from the United States and Europe suggests a worldwide increase in Type 1 diabetes, as well - and researchers are unable to explain why.

Maryn McKenna writes:

For reasons that are completely mysterious, however, the incidence of type 1 diabetes has been increasing throughout the globe at rates that range from 3 to 5 percent a year. Although the second trend is less well publicized, it is still deeply troubling, because this form of the illness has the potential to disable or kill people so much earlier in their lives.

No one knows exactly why type 1 diabetes is rising. Solving that mystery—and, if possible, reducing or reversing the trend—has become an urgent problem for public health researchers everywhere. So far they feel they have only one solid clue.

“Increases such as the ones that have been reported cannot be explained by a change in genes in such a short period,” says Giu­seppina Imperatore, who leads a team of epidemiologists in the Division of Diabetes Translation at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “So environmental factors are probably major players in this increase.”

The article goes on to say that although Type 1 and 2 diabetes are different diseases, researchers think  both may have a connection to lifestyle choices that contribute to excessive weight gain.

Previously: Diabetes care lacking in developing countries, Americans still falling short of national nutritional guidelines and More than three-quarters of Americans projected to be overweight, obese by 2020
Photo by NIH Image Bank

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