Type 2 diabetes is more commonly associated with adults. However, its frequency has markedly increased in the pediatric age group.
Private health insurance claim lines with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis more than doubled in the pediatric population (ages 0 to 22 years) from 2011 to 2015, increasing 109%, according to data from FAIR Health, a national, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information.
This finding, reported in the new FAIR Health white paper, Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes as Documented in Private Claims Data: Spotlight on This Growing Issue among the Nation's Youth, runs counter to the common appellation of "adult-onset diabetes" for type 2 diabetes. Drawing on FAIR Health's database of over 21 billion privately billed healthcare claims, the new report shows that claim lines with a diagnosis of obesity, a condition that contributes to type 2 diabetes, also increased across the pediatric population from 2011 to 2015. The largest increase among pediatric patients is 154%, in the age group 19 to 22 years.
Except in the case of the middle school age group (ages 10 to 13), claim lines with an obesity diagnosis occurred more often in females during the period 2011-2015 than in males; in that middle school age group, the diagnosis appeared in claims for both males and females at approximately the same rate. Afterward, beginning in early high school (ages 14-16), the rate of claim lines with an obesity diagnosis for females exceeded claim lines that included an obesity diagnosis for males through college age (ages 19-22), at which point the gender distribution became the same as in adults over 22: 72% female to 28% male. By contrast, claim lines with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis were more common for males than females in most pediatric age groups.
Other Obesity-Related Diagnoses
During the period 2011-2015, other conditions associated with obesity also increased in claim lines among young people. The conditions included obstructive sleep apnea and hypertension, both of which were more common in claim lines for males than females.
In the report, FAIR Health also compared the percent of claim lines for pediatric type 2 diabetes diagnoses to the percent of claim lines for all pediatric medical claims by state. Using that standard, pediatric type 2 diabetes was most prevalent in the period 2011-2015 in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Utah and South Dakota. It was least prevalent in New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware, Hawaii and Rhode Island.