Nearly 10 percent of Americans now have diabetes

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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One Comment

  1. Judith A. Carlson April 16, 2014 at 12:20 pm · Reply

    Gee – obesity and diabetes, nothing new! The problemm in my opinion, is that often obesity isn’t addressed properly. Doctors all too often attribute it to depression, over-eating, lack of exercise, but that’s not always the case although the gold standard is to treat it that way. Very often it’s the result of a glandular or homonal imbalance and, even when they test for that, it’s not always thorough. For example, the thyroid can be totally out of whack but the T3 and T4 uptake still show normal; they dion’t bother testing for anything else, including other glandular or hormonal imbalances. Obesity can also be the fault of a medication, such as a corticosteroid taken for COPD or even a non-steroidal COPD medication that is associated with obesity only by anecdotal reports. So maybe if the medical profession would get off its gold standard high-horse then obesity might be able to be addressed. I refuse to be diabetic as I was never anywhere near even borderline (as I am now) before I gained weight with no change in my eating habits or exercise level. I’m now on a starvation diet (about 1000-1200 calories a day and being closely monitored by my partner) and on a treadmill for a minimum of 15 minutes a day x 5 days per week.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.