Obesity Blamed for Doubling Rate of Diabetes Cases

October 31, 2008 at 7:33 am Leave a comment

The nation’s obesity epidemic is exacting a heavy toll: The rate of new
diabetes cases nearly doubled in the United States in the past 10
years, the government said Thursday.


The highest rates were in the South, according to the first state-by-state review of new diagnoses. The worst was in West Virginia,
where about 13 in 1,000 adults were diagnosed with the disease in
2005-07. The lowest was in Minnesota, where the rate was 5 in 1,000.

Nationally, the rate of new cases climbed from about 5 per 1,000 in the mid-1990s to 9 per 1,000 in the middle of this decade.

Roughly 90 percent of cases are Type 2 diabetes, the form linked to obesity.

The findings dovetail with trends seen in obesity and lack of exercise — two health measures where Southern states also rank at the bottom.

“It
isn’t surprising the problem is heaviest in the South — no pun
intended,” agreed Matt Petersen, who oversees data and statistics for
the American Diabetes Association.

The study, led by Karen Kirtland of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides an up-to-date picture of where the disease is exploding. The information should be a big help as the government and health insurance companies decide where to focus prevention campaigns, Petersen said.

Diabetes was the nation’s seventh-leading cause of death in 2006, according to the CDC.
More than 23 million Americans have diabetes, and the number is rapidly
growing. About 1.6 million new cases were diagnosed among adults last
year.

Type 2 diabetics do not produce
or use insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar into energy. The
illness can cause sugar to build up in the body, leading to
complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and poor circulation that leads to foot amputations.

The
study involved a random-digit-dialed survey of more than 260,000
adults. Participants were asked if they had ever been told by a doctor
that they have diabetes, and when the diagnosis was made. The
comparisons between 1995-97 and 2005-07 covered only the 33 states for
which the CDC had complete data for both time periods.

The researchers had data for 40 states for the years 2005-07.

West Virginia,
South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee had the highest
rates, all at 11 cases per 1,000 or higher. Puerto Rico was about as
high as West Virginia. Minnesota, Hawaii and Wyoming had the lowest rates.

It
is not entirely clear why some states were worse than others. Older
people, blacks and Hispanics tend to have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes, and the South has large concentrations of all three groups. However, West Virginia is overwhelmingly white.

The
report asked about diagnosed diabetes only. Because an estimated one in
four diabetics have not been diagnosed, the findings probably
underestimate the problem, said Angela Liese, a diabetes researcher at
the University of South Carolina.

The underestimates may be particularly bad in the rural South and other areas where patients have trouble getting health care, she noted.

Source: AP

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