Obesity,Diabetes mellitus type 2,Prediabetes,Sleep apnea,Hypertension,Diabetes mellitus,Insurance,Disease,Patient

Obesity-Linked Diagnoses On The Rise Among Kids And Teens

January 12, 2017
in Kids

Whatever their size, kids and teens benefit from exercise, abundant research confirms. And exercising with friends is almost always more fun than on your own. It's no secret that American children have gotten heavier in recent decades. Now an analysis released Thursday by the nonprofit Fair Health, a national clearinghouse for claims data, joins earlier research showing the consequences of that extra weight. The study found a sharp rise in health insurance claims filed on behalf of young people who have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and other conditions more typically associated with older adults. Claims for Type 2 diabetes — formerly known as "adult-onset" diabetes — among people younger than 23 years old more than doubled between 2011 and 2015, according to the analysis of a large national database of health claims paid by about 60 insurers. At the same time, claims for prediabetes among children and youth rose 110 percent, while high blood pressure claims rose 67 percent. Sleep apnea, a condition in which a patient temporarily stops breathing while sleeping, rose 161 percent. The findings "not only raise quality-of-life questions for children, but also the ... kind of resources that will be necessary to address this emerging situation," said Robin Gelburd, president of Fair Health. The company offers free medical cost comparison tools to consumers, and sells data to insurers and health systems. Fair Health's analysis is certainly not the first to note a rise in obesity or Type 2 diabetes in this age group; nor does it explore the possible reasons behind the apparent increase in claims. One factor in the rise could simply be an increased awareness of the problem and testing for it, while variations among states could reflect differences in patient ethnicity, how doctors practice, insurance rules or all those factors. "We try to give a big picture," Gelburd said, "and welcome others to look under the hood for details." But the analysis is different from some earlier research in that it uses a database of actual health insurance claims for about 150 million people, all of whom...

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