According to the latest report from the CDC the number of people with diabetes has risen by 50% in 42 states and in 18 of those states in has risen by more that 100%, all in less than 20 years. The new study was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report(MMWR). In the research they analyzed data reporting about diabetes between 1995 and 2010.
By the year 2010, it was estimated that about 18 million people were having diabetes in the US. It was also estimated that about 7 million other people were having an undetectable form of diabetes. At this point it is believed that this estimate would have gone much higher since 1990. The five states with the highest rates of diabetes are Oklahoma (226%), Kentucky (158%), Georgia (145%), Alabama (140%) and Washington (135%).
How can one explain this? A statistician at the CDC in Atlanta, researcher Linda Geiss explains that some of the key reasons for the increase are inactive lifestyle and obesity. Another explanation can be that the screening process to detect diabetes has improved over the years, making it easier to catch more people that have the condition. Another theory is the fact that the population is aging and those with diabetes are living longer. But according Geiss, the significant increase in diabetes is probably due to an increase in the risk factors more than anything else.
The spread of diabetes in the US
The region with the highest level of diabetes is the South and Appalachian region of the United states. The region extends from southern New York to northern Mississippi. West Virginia is a part of it and 12 other states are found within that belt. The researcher Geiss stated that these regions are found to have the highest increase of diabetes. In these areas, diabetes risk factors like obesity and inactive lifestyle are quite common.
Geiss also mentioned that it doesn’t have to remain that way. By simply changing the lifestyle, the rate of diabetes in those regions could go down. In the case of diabetes II, by simply eating well and getting active one can easily avoid it.
The chief of the division of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina, John Buse, MD agrees with Geiss statement. He said that people at risk should get screened and adopt a proper lifestyle. He added that even though the diabetes epidemic continues to spread, science has also come up with tools that enable doctors to easily detect it.
Angela U. Tucker, MD, stated these new findings reflect what she is being dealing with at her own practice. Tucker practices at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. She stated that even though obesity is the most obvious risk factor for diabetes, it also happens to be the most modifiable factor. Heredity, ethnicity and age can’t be changed but one can choose to change his/her exercise habits. A person can lose weight by choosing to change his/her eating habits. So by getting informed early enough about the diabetes status one can still hope to improve his lifestyle on time.