Again With the Diabeeeetus…

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Yeah, Michelle Obama. The diabeeetus thing. I suppose y’all have heard/read it by now. (Hat tip: Bri of Fat Lot of Good.)

Know how many American kids actually DO have T2d?

The short answer is, nobody knows for sure, because it’s so rare nobody can get exact numbers.

But…extrapolating from data on the ADA Web site (not a fat-friendly organization, mind you, so they have no motivation to fudge the numbers in our favor), the number would seem to be…drum roll please…about 30,000 or 40,000 people younger than 20 diagnosed with T2d in the U.S. Yes, that’s in the entire country. Yes, that’s out of about 83 million people under 20 years old in America. I am not kidding. We really ARE talking about a number THAT tiny, and the only time they had a percentage-population increase in the 22 years they’ve been tracking it (and no, they didn’t track it at all before that) was when they lowered the diagnostic criteria from fasting blood sugar > 140 to FBS > 126. (Newsflash: Broadening the diagnostic criteria and actually testing people for it means more people diagnosed. I’m autistic, I know this quite well.)

How’d I get my numbers? Simple. The ADA says:

186,300, or 0.22% of all people in this age group have diabetes

About one in every 400 to 600 children and adolescents has type 1 diabetes

Therefore, we can surmise that about 70% of all diabetes cases in people < 20 years old in America are type 1. The rest are a combination of type 2, MODY (maturity-onset diabetes of youth, which some consider a subset of type 2 and some consider a separate condition), gestational, and secondary (due to pancreatic injury or some other systemic illness attacking the pancreas). Therefore, the type 2 figure is no more than 50,000 at the very most, and probably considerably less than that.

And of those 30,000 or 40,000 kids, give or take, what percentage have first or second-degree relatives with the disease? About 85 percent. That’s according to the paper that initially identified the T2d youth trend back in 1996; the entire paper isn’t available online, unfortunately. (Even so, the abstract says the link with first-degree relatives alone is around 65%.) And if you like medical nerdery, this paper from Endocrine Review talks about the polygenetic nature of T2d, confirming that this is about way, way more than the fourth-grade-level assumption of “eat like a pig, get fat, give yourself diabetes.” (Hat tip to Sandy/JFS for both papers.)

Oh, and even Dr. Francine Ratner Kaufman, whose infamous “New Epidemic” paper (which said T2d is “responsible for 8-45% of new cases of diabetes, depending on geographic location,” which some people — including our first lady? — have interpreted as “8-45% of kids have T2d”!), admitted the overwhelming genetic link in her paper. So there.

And that’s not even taking into consideration that kids have fluctuating insulin levels as they are growing and could possibly be misdiagnosed with T2d because of that, especially if they’re fat. (Not to mention that this is a disease that disproportionately affects poor nonwhite children and teens. But of course, that couldn’t possibly have anything to do with increased genetic propensity, or with their stress levels being off the frigging charts and their health-care and food availability and neighborhood safety being total garbage compared to their whiter and/or more affluent counterparts, now could it? Nah, we just have to get them all to quit eating fries because fries are the root of all evil, and fat kids who eat them — or hell, even the ones who don’t — deserve to be reminded nonstop that they’re the reason America can’t have nice things.)

So Mrs. Obama’s panic-button projections (which seem to have been gleaned from a decade-long game of Telephone rather than actual facts) lead her to believe that “in a generation” (20 years from now?), we’re going to go from 30,000 kids, almost all of whom have a strong genetic link to T2d, to almost 30 million kids with T2d, almost none of whom do? How??? How is that even remotely possible?

Oh, I forgot. They’ll lower the diagnostic criteria again to FBS > 110, then 100, then 90, then 80…

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11 Responses to “Again With the Diabeeeetus…”

  1. bumerry Says:

    I love you, Meowser!

    Yeah, the reason there seem to be an alarming number of cases of all kinds of “number problems” (cholesterol, BP, T2D) is because we never, EVER tested kids without symptoms for them. Plus the numbers were randomly lowered with no clinical evidence at all in the 90’s. We literally have no idea how many juvenile T2D cases there were in the past, or what healthy ranges of numbers are for growing children in any of these areas. We have no idea if kids who get T2D in youth actually develop it as adults. And don’t even get me started on “pre-diabetes” and “gestational diabetes” which nobody else in the world believes in. *sigh*

  2. La di Da Says:

    I worked out something similar a while back for the Australian population. Using all the figures I could find from similar organisations, I discovered that there are less than 100 children in the entire country with T2D. Out of a child/youth population of about 5 million. WOW BIG EPIDEMIC!

  3. BigLiberty Says:

    “So Mrs. Obama’s panic-button projections (which seem to have been gleaned from a decade-long game of Telephone rather than actual facts)…”

    Hilariously true! I just realized that a good deal of the regurgitated pseudoscience to which we’re subjected from the mainstream media is exactly how you described, “a decade-long game of Telephone” — brilliant.

    This is a great summary and very succinctly makes the case against the T2-in-kids ‘epidemic’ of which they’ve been trying to convince us for the past decade. It’s going to be linked to my “Truth About Fat” page on my blog, stat!

  4. wriggles Says:

    Excellent post and great to have you back posting. I’ve missed you!

  5. Jen Says:

    Like BigLiberty, I had to comment on your phrase “decade-long game of Telephone”. You simply could not have put it better. The real epidemic here is the epidemic of media distortion. Well said.

  6. Christine Says:

    A friend of the family is a school nurse, caring for the students of 4 schools total (2 elementary, 2 middle). These are inner-city schools, with a high percentage of non-white students – mainly African American and Hispanic. I asked her how many of her students had Type 2 Diabetes. Her answer – 2, out of about 2,500 kids. I want to repeat that – 2 out of 2,500, and this is apparently a high percentage, given everything I’ve read on the subject. Epidemic my ass. (For what it’s worth, there are 5 kids in the same school population with Type 1.)

  7. buttercup Says:

    I love it when you math. :)

  8. living400lbs Says:

    I <3 this. It's good to see you blogging again :)

  9. Things Worth Reading: Epidemics and Safeway’s Wellness Incentives « Living ~400lbs Says:

    [...] Meowser kicked in a terrific debunking of the new “epidemic” of childhood type 2 diabetes. [...]

  10. Harriet Brown Says:

    Great post, Meowser!

  11. spacedcowgirl Says:

    I agree, this is a great and informative post. Thank you for crunching the numbers.


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