I received more feedback than usual on my recent blog entry, A Mountain of Meat and Cheese, with readers defending their right to have their patties stacked at Burger King. Odd comments, considering this is a website dedicated to organic living, but that’s the peculiar nature of the Internet.

Those who relish fast food may want to check out a study published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association, which reveals that a large group of American Indians who developed type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) before age 20 had a substantially increased risk for end-stage kidney disease and death between ages 25 and 55. While this study involved a specific population, it’s important to note that the rise in obesity among all U.S. children and adolescents, regardless of race or ethnicity, has led to an increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Meda E. Pavkov and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health wanted to see if there was an association between a person’s age at the onset of type 2 diabetes and the risk of end-stage kidney disease and death. Among the study participants, the incidence of end-stage kidney disease in those who developed type 2 diabetes before age 20 was 840% higher than the rate for those who developed the disease between ages 25 to 34, 500% higher than the rate for those 35 to 44, and 400% higher than the rate for those 45 to 54.

The death rate in participants who developed diabetes before age 20 was 300% higher than in nondiabetic participants and 210% higher than in individuals with older-onset type 2 diabetes.

“Because youth-onset diabetes mellitus leads to substantially increased complication rates and mortality in middle age, efforts should focus on preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes, delaying the onset of diabetic nephropathy [kidney disease] or both,” the researchers conclude.