Diabetes epidemic sweeping through the U.S.
More than half of American adults either have diabetes or could be at high risk for the disease, according to a new study published in the Journal of American Medicine Association.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey collected data from 26,000 adults from 1988 to 2012. The results found that in 2012, between 12 and 14 percent had diabetes, and an additional 38 percent had pre-diabetes. The majority of the group with diabetes have type 2 diabetes because of poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise. In addition, about 33 percent of Americans had no clue they had diabetes.
The percentages were especially high for particular ethnicities: Asian Americans at 50 percent, Hispanics at 23 percent, African Americans at 22 percent, Asians at 20 percent and Caucasians at 11 percent.
“There are many more people who have diabetes than the numbers that are being diagnosed,” Dr. Lubin-Johnson says. “I know this because people are reluctant, scared or for many reasons, don’t go to the doctor until it is too late.”
Dr. Lubin-Johnson, whose two grandfathers and one brother died of diabetes, believes knowledge and early detection is the key to lowering the overall number of people in the U.S. who are on the cusp of the disease.
“It is important to know whether you have diabetes or if you have health complications that could lead to diabetes,” she adds. “You need to eat a proper diet, exercise and see your physician regularly.”
Study leaders agreed that early prevention is the key in keeping rates of the disease down.
“Diabetes can be treated, but only if it is diagnosed,” lead researcher Catherine Cowie said in a news release. “The medical community needs to be aware that there is a high rate of undiagnosed diabetes in the population.”
The report also found that diabetes rates became steady starting in 2008 due to increased awareness and education.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 29.1 million people have diabetes and more than 8 million are undiagnosed. Diabetes is an illness that occurs because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or it doesn’t recognize the insulin the body produces.
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