Nearly 10 percent of Americans now have diabetes
The percentage of Americans with diabetes has nearly doubled in the past two decades, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Using data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers examined the prevalence of diabetes, prediabetes and glycemic control in more than 43,000 adults.
They found that rates of diabetes have not only increased, but increased dramatically.
In the years between 1988 to 1994, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was 5.5 percent. By the next survey (1999 to 2004) that number had risen to 7.6 percent. In the final survey (2005 to 2010), the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was 9.3 percent.
Rates of prediabetes also increased, from less than 6 percent at the beginning of the study period to more than 12 percent by the end.
The study authors suggest that the increase in diabetes rates can be explained by the growing rate of obesity. If no changes are made, experts predict that the number of Americans with diabetes will reach 44 million by 2034.
“The reality is that we know what to do to prevent Type 2 diabetes, but doing it on a population level is an incredible challenge,” said lead study author Dr. Elizabeth Selvin, in a news release. “There’s some evidence that the obesity epidemic may have plateaued, but combating the environment that contributes to obesity is an incredible difficulty.”
However, several encouraging findings emerged from the study.
The number of people with undiagnosed diabetes levels off during the study period, suggesting that newer screening tools may be more efficient. Additionally, the researchers found that blood sugar management improved among whites, although those gains weren’t seen in blacks or Mexican-Americans.
“It’s a positive that people are recognizing diabetes as an important health issue,” said Gloria Boland, certified diabetes educator and nurse at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Groups identified as higher risk need to understand that adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die of heart disease than those without diabetes, and once you are diagnosed with it, it’s a chronic disease that needs to be carefully managed for the rest of your life.”
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